Texas is experiencing a period of significant growth, resulting in a rapid expansion of aggregate production operations (APOs) within the state. APOs in Texas are not required to adopt best management practices (BMPs) that are required in other states, so the majority of operators do not use these practices in Texas. As a result, the expanding APO industry is having an increasingly negative impact on the health, safety, property rights, property values, natural resources, and long-term viability of neighboring communities.
In most states, comprehensive APO mining regulations were put in place to address major conflicts between rapidly growing population centers and expanding APOs in their vicinity. We have this situation occurring now in numerous areas of Texas.
Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining (TRAM) is a statewide coalition of member groups seeking to work with lawmakers, state agencies, and good-faith industry operators to create state standards for BMPs in the APO industry and adopt those standards into law.
Specifically, TRAM seeks to address the following Seven Key Issues that, if addressed, would result in equity for all stakeholders involved, healthier, safer, and more desirable communities and a more efficient APO industry better aligned with stakeholder concerns in the communities in which they operate.
The Key Issues listed below are the result of major concerns with Aggregate Production Operations (APOs), including open-pit surface mines (quarries for aggregate and gravel), sand mines (dry and wet), hot mix asphalt plants, concrete batch plants, bulk material handling facilities, and all associated crushing, processing, material handling, and transport operations.
Addressing these issues effectively requires assessment of the effects of a single APO as well as consideration for the cumulative effects of multiple APOs in an area.
1) Air particulate emissions – quantify and address the impact APOs have on air quality for adjacent neighbors, nearby properties and the community at large
2) Water use and availability – assess and address consumption, availability, and the mounting effects of APO water use on regional water supplies
3) Surface and Ground Water contamination and flooding – address water quality impacts to aquifers, rivers, and wetlands as well as silting and flooding issues
4) Rapid development of APOs without adequate regulatory oversight – permitting requirements are deficient and Environmental Impact Assessments, mine planning and reclamation are not required. Resolution will require regulation akin to the federal Surface Mining and Control Reclamation Act (SMCRA) that applies to mining almost everywhere else in the US
5) Truck traffic -address effects of rapidly increasing volume of heavy truckloads on public infrastructure, including limited capacity roads, as well as the associated emissions and dust they create. Address safety and the public cost of maintaining roads not designed for this use
6) Nuisance issues – address additional impacts to neighbors’ quality of life and enjoyment of private property, including blasting (seismic activity), noise, odor, light trespass, and visible blight
7) Economic impacts – address the negative economic impacts of APOs, including the devaluation of neighboring properties and the misapplication of agricultural and wildlife valuations for APO properties.