Texas AG Weekly Roundup: Paxton joins nationwide investigation into Instagram, settlement reached in oil spill

Staff Report

The responsibilities, of the Office of the Attorney General, are to serve as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government, issue legal opinions when requested by the Governor, heads of state agencies, and other officials and agencies as provided by Texas statutes.

The Texas AG sits as an ex-officio member of state committees and commissions and defends challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the State.

Many Texans look to the Office of the Attorney General for guidance with disputes and legal issues. The agency receives hundreds of letters, phone calls, and visits each week about crime victims’ compensation, child support, abuse in nursing homes, possible consumer fraud, and other topics.

To find out more about the Texas Attorney General, visit the official website at https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/.

Paxton Announces $15.3 Million Settlement Reached in Texas City Y Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Case

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton announced a $15.3 million settlement of the Texas City Y Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage (NRDA) matter.

The damages occurred on March 22, 2014, when a barge owned and operated by Kirby Inland Marine, LP (“Kirby”) collided with a cargo ship in Galveston Bay near Texas City.

The barge spilled approximately 168,000 gallons of oil into Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Approximately 160 miles of shoreline were contaminated as a result of the spill, including areas in Matagorda Island, Mustang Island State Park, and Padre Island National Seashore.

Natural resources harmed or killed by the spill include birds, dolphins, and other marine life, waters of the United States and the State, marshes, beaches, and subtidal habitats.

The Attorney General’s Office represented the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the General Land Office as the state trustees.

Kirby will deposit the $15.3 million into a Texas City Y Oil Spill Restoration account to be jointly utilized by the federal and state trustees in implementing restoration projects designed to rehabilitate lost or injured natural resources and enhance recreational activities in areas affected by the spill.

Read the complaint here.
Read the consent decree here.

Paxton Joins Multistate Coalition to Stop Experimentation on Youth

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton joined a multistate coalition to defend against a challenge to Arkansas’ law that stops experimentation on children experiencing gender dysphoria.

In the scientific community, the general consensus has been that more research is needed before providing children with potentially irreversible “gender-affirming care,” such as providing puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or surgical interventions.

Multiple studies show that most childhood gender-identity issues resolve naturally with time and that it is impossible to know ahead of time which child’s symptoms may persist into adulthood, warranting further treatment.

The medical evidence also shows that nearly all children whose gender dysphoria is treated with puberty blockers to “buy time” will proceed to take cross-sex hormones and seek other medical interventions with irreversible, lifelong consequences—complications such as infertility, loss of sexual function, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, bone-density problems, risk of altered brain development, social harms from delayed puberty, and mental health concerns.

Read the full Amicus Brief here

Paxton Joins Amicus Brief Supporting Religious Liberty

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton joined a multistate amicus brief in support of religious liberty, in a case that is pending in the Colorado Court of Appeals. Scardina v. Masterpiece Cakeshop is the second case brought against Jack Phillips, a baker, under state public accommodation laws—this time because he refused on religious grounds to make a custom cake celebrating a customer’s gender transition.

The previous case against Mr. Phillips was resolved in his favor by the United States Supreme Court.

The amicus brief argues that the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause prevents the government from enforcing state laws that interfere with Americans’ exercise of their religious beliefs.

“The federal government cannot attack certain religious practices and overburden our way of life under the guise of public accommodation. We are a country where people of various faiths share the common goal of freedom and that must be protected,” Attorney General Paxton said. “I will continue to fight for the religious liberty of every Texan.”

Read the Amicus Brief here

Paxton Joins Nationwide Investigation Into Instagram’s Impact on Young People 


AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton joined a nationwide investigation into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, for providing and promoting its social media platform – Instagram – to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms.

The investigation targets, among other things, Meta’s efforts to increase the frequency and duration of young users’ engagement and the resulting harms caused by such extended engagement.

Meta’s own internal research shows that using Instagram is associated with increased risks of depression, eating disorders, and even suicide.

Request for Opinion

Official Request Summary RQ-0441-KP
The meaning of “economic benefit” under the gambling provisions of the Penal Code

Official Date Received
Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Official Requestor
The Honorable Chris Turner
Chair, House Committee on Business & Industry
Texas House of Representatives
Post Office Box 2910
Austin, Texas 78768-2910

Request for Opinion

Official Request Summary RQ-0440-KP
Whether a licensed professional engineer is authorized to certify a plat of a subdivision in specific circumstances

Official Date Received
Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Official Requestor
Lance Kinney, Ph.D., P.E.
Executive Director
Texas Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors
1917 South Interstate 35
Austin, Texas 78741-3702

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