Dry riverbeds, dead fish, tapped-out wells: Drought takes toll in Hill Country San Antonio Report – 08/21/2022
Concrete Ideas New technology and methods may help clean up the cement and concrete industries—two of Texas’ most conspicuous polluters. Texas Observer – 07/26/2022
Families worry about health, water if proposed rock-crushing operation becomes neighbor Wilco Aggregates, a rock-crushing company, recently filed an application with the TCEQ for an air quality permit. 70 concerned homeowners who live along or near County Road 284 in Williamson County spoke with KXAN investigators. KXAN.com – 07/24/2022
Editorial: Did Texas agency hold sham hearing over Aldine concrete plant? Felt that way. In the end, it didn’t really matter what the folks at the hearing came to say. It was too late….As an agency, TCEQ works with federal standards, state requirements and its own rules. The Legislature should act to make sure that when communities such as Aldine speak out, they’re heard. Houston Chronicle – 07/15/2022
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Faces a Reckoning As part of a Sunset Commission review, Texans are calling out the state agency for failing to address environmental injustices. The Texas Observer – 06/29/2022
Lawmakers should force TCEQ to get tougher on polluters We urge the TCEQ Sunset Advisory Commission and Texas lawmakers to adopt the advisory panel’s newest recommendations for improving public transparency and beefing up environmental enforcement. Austin American-Statesman – 06/29/2022
Texans’ environmental agency says Sunset Review recommendations would create a burden for the agency The Sunset Commission outlined several recommendations regarding the TCEQ’s public perception and its perceived lack of transparency. Houston Public Media – 06/23/2022
Texans tell environmental agency: Stop being reluctant to regulate industry At a hearing on a report evaluating the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s effectiveness, Texans as young as 9 and as old as 80 testified that the agency had not adequately responded to their environmental or health concerns. The Texas Tribune – 06/22/2022
Time to Give Texans Breathing Room from Under-regulated Concrete Plants TRAM Press Release – 06/20/2022
Texas environmental regulators — and their lack of trust– are up for formal Sunset review – The way state environmental regulators invite public input at permit meetings is contributing to a “concerning” amount of public distrust in their work, according to a formal review of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Houston Chronicle – 06/12/2022
Key changes must be made at the state’s top environmental regulator, now – TCEQ leadership needs to step up and make sure the agency records a company’s pollution fairly and accurately. Dallas Morning News – 06/12/2022
Lack of transparency among issues Texas environmental officials need to improve upon, commission finds The TCEQ needs to be a tougher more transparent regulator, according to a new staff report from the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. San Antonio Express-News – 06/01/2022
Rapid growth is hurting the Texas Hill Country. Here’s how A new report found this rural region is suffering due to unregulated development and overconsumption of water resources. KVUE News – 05/30/2022
Amid Spiraling Growth, Texans Rally for Safer Practices in Aggregate Mining and Concrete Production TRAM Press Release – 05/24/2022
What does ‘environmental justice’ look like in Texas? So far, not much. One year after the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced the initiative, an investigation finds the only efforts were actually to stave off prior legal challenges. Texas Standard – 05/23/2022
Setting Up a Concete Batch Plant in Dallas Just Got a Little Harder Under a city ordinance passed last week, new batch plants will require public hearings before the City Plan Commission and City Council. The plants are known sources of air pollutants. Dallas Observer 05/16/2022
When a Quarry Closes Can Its Damage Be Undone? Aggregate mining in Texas yields billions of dollars but leaves behind a pockmarked landscape. – Texas Monthly 05/05/2022
PODCAST: Partnering with Allies Can Be Key to Winning Milann Guckian tells the story of her and her organization’s (Preserve our Hill Country Environment) fight against TCEQ and Vulcan Construction Materials, LLC — from her uniquely personal prospective. In this episode of Beat the Big Guys, Milann provides a great recap of the history of their battle, their efforts over the past nearly five years, and the successes they’ve achieved to date to help preserve Comal County and the Texas Hill Country against aggressive aggregate mining and the poorly regulated APO industry. – April, 2022
TCEQ undergoing Sunset Commission review this year, and public comments are pouring in Roughly 15 people from the San Antonio area — who spoke during a recent public forum at the Woodlawn Pointe Community Center — mostly expressed anger, disappointment and frustration over how the TCEQ has protected the environment. “The TCEQ is not taking care of Texans. The TCEQ is broken, and they’re not serving the citizens of Texas, and they need to be fixed,” said Mark Friesenhahn, a member of Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining, an organization focused on the health and safety of that industry. “I love being deep in the heart of Texas, and I want this place to look like it used to for our grandkids, visitors and our associates in the future.”- San Antonio Express-News 04/02/2022
Quarry may be built on Needmore Ranch Nearby property owners have begun to voice concerns about the potential health hazards of living near an aggregate mine. As of last week TCEQ had received 21 comments on the permit with nine requesting a public meeting. Public comments may be submitted up to April 1st about this proposed permit #167888, either in writing to the Texas Comission on Environmental Quality, Office of the Chief Clerk, MC-105, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087, or electronically at www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/ – The Wimberly View 03/17/2022
Texas’ environmental agency is undergoing a Sunset Review. Here’s why it matters Every 12 years, state agencies undergo a performance evaluation to make them more efficient. In the past, environmental advocates and community members have successfully used this process to push for changes within the agency. To find out what changes are being advocated this time, Houston Public Media spoke with Adrian Shelley, the DIrector of Public Citizen’s Texas Office. – Houston Public Media 01/31/2022
Texas Hill Country: Rolling hills or empty moonscape? – by Milann Guckian, Herald-Zeitung, 01/22/2022
Dredging zones on two scenic lakes are selected –San Antonio Express News, 01/11/2022 The Lower Colorado River Authority for the first time will allow large-scale dredging on Lake LBJ, shown here, and other Highland Lakes. The agency recently designated four dredging zones.
In McKinney, Concerns Over Concrete Batch Plant Near Wildlife Sanctuary, Sanctuary, Special Needs Facility and Soccer Club – Dallas Observer 01/10/2022 In Dallas, city staff are drawing up plans to make the process of opposing batch plants easier and address the effects these plants have on local air quality and public health.
Disturbing the waters –San Antonio Express, 12/19/2021 TRAM stood up against new rules that will allow unprecedented commercial sand mining in the Highland Lakes. We were disappointed by the 8-6 vote by the LCRA board to adopt the new rules. Click link to read more on this story from the San Antonio Express News. (Thank you, Brian Chasnoff and the SAEN for this reporting!)
Quarries are polluting parts of the Hill Country. Regulators aren’t stopping them. – Texas Standard, 10/12/2021. An investigation by the San Antonio Express-News found that frequent violators rarely face consequences from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the regulator that deals with pollution from facilities like these.
BLAST ZONE – Quarries dump sediment into waterways with little regulation – Houston Chronicle, 10/10/21 TCEQ enforcement actions can’t be relied on to halt problems. In at least nine documented cases in the Hill Country, the agency has failed to stop repeated infractions as earthen barriers meant to protect rivers have crumbled, dust has blanketed homes and workers have ignored rules put in place to prevent contamination of the aquifer. Only in rare cases has the state levied financial penalties.
Do you live near a quarry? Use the interactive map to see how close you live to a quarry site. – San Antonio Express-News, 10/06/21
Mansfield concrete plant plans were shot down. Is battle back on after Texas ruling? – Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 09/30/2021. Concerns about the ruling weren’t limited to the specifics of the Bosque Solutions case. More than 1,400 Texans and 24 legislators from both sides of the aisle submitted comments asking the TCEQ to slow down the amendment process and allow more time for people to weigh in on the emissions requirements, according to the environmental coalition Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining (TRAM).
TCEQ OKs crystalline silica exemption for concrete batch plants – San Antonio Express-News, 09/22/2021. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Wednesday rejected pleas by concerned Texans about the proposed elimination of a standard permit limit on hazardous crystalline silica emissions from concrete batch plants. Crystalline silica has been linked to lung disease, chronic respiratory problems and silicosis. Opponents argued that the TCEQ was not transparent enough regarding the permit revision and that the agency needs to take more time to understand crystalline silica’s effects.
TRAM speaks out against TCEQ’s easing of air pollution regulations – The Highlander, 09/24/2021. A recent dispute over an application for a concrete batch plant (CBP) Air Quality Standard Permit in Tarrant County revealed that TCEQ has not been following its own rules regarding crystalline silica, a hazardous air pollutant since 2012.
From homes to parkland? Landowners consider deal that could spare Honey Creek – San Antonio Report, 08/18/2021. The Nature Conservancy and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department are among the entities negotiating a land acquisition that could preserve Honey Creek, one of the few pristine streams left in the Hill Country, from development. The acreage is currently part of Honey Creek Ranch, whose owners had proposed replacing the open ranch land with more than 1,600 homes and three schools.
A New Approach to Neighborhood Councils – Rock Products, 08/2021 With the recommendation of TRAM member Francis Lovett, Kerr County hired consultant Jill Shackelford to initiate a dialogue between aggregate producers and their neighbors.
Progress Made on Local Mining Operations – The Kerville Daily Times, 06/22/2021 A community advisory committee is addressing the concerns of people living near local mining operations. Consultant Jill Shackelford gave a presentation before the Kerr County Commissioners Court on Monday, which was attended by representatives from neighborhoods and various mining companies that operate quarries in the area.
TCEQ seeks extension to appeal air permit case – The Herald-Zeitung, 06/22/2021 The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is asking for an extension to appeal a decision blocking an air permit for a Vulcan Materials quarry. The TCEQ did not file the appeal by the June 14 deadline, but the Third Court of Appeals granted its motion requesting a 39-day extension.
In ‘historic’ decision, Texas commission votes down plans for Mansfield concrete plant – Fort Worth Star-Telegram 06/10/2021 Three years of neighborhood opposition to a concrete batch plant just outside of Mansfield culminated with a historic decision, as the TCEQ voted 2-1 to reject an air quality permit application filed by Bosque Solutions.
Marble Falls rock crushing plant canceled; lawsuit settled – Daily Tribune 05/27/2021 Asphalt Inc. was previously granted permits for the plant by the TCEQ. The city of Marble Falls, Gregg Ranch developers, and two private landowners filed a joint lawsuit in 2017, claiming the TCEQ and Asphalt Inc. (now doing business as Lone Star Paving) were violating the Texas Clean Air Act.
Vulcan appealing ruling that blocked quarry in Comal County – San Antonio Express News 05/24/2021 Alabama-based Vulcan Construction Materials LLC is appealing a Texas judge’s decision in March that blocked its proposed quarry north of San Antonio.
TCEQ, Vulcan Appeal Judge’s Decision To
Vacate Air-Quality Permit for Quarry – My Canyon Lake 05/20/2021 Friends of Dry Comal Creek and Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry, who filed the original lawsuit on Feb. 14, 2020, say they aren’t surprised by the appeal. “While Vulcan’s motivations seem transparent, it’s disappointing that TCEQ is spending taxpayer dollars and agency resources ostensibly supporting an out-of-state corporation, in visible opposition to hundreds of Texans they are supposed to protect,” the groups said in a joint statement.
Mansfield TX concrete plant headed for state commission ruling Fort Worth Star-Telegram 05/17/2021 Neighbors beat the odds to keep a concrete plant out of Mansfield, but the fight isn’t over yet. A Texas Commission on Environmental Quality meeting on Wednesday will decide the future of the Bosque Solutions permit.
Sun City residents concerned with proposal for nearby concrete batch plant (VIDEO) CBS Austin NEWS 05/10/2021 Sun City residents say they’re concerned about a proposed concrete batch plant that would be built about half a mile from homes. Fermin Ortiz with TRAM says there are already 39 concrete batch plants in Williamson County.
Marble Falls settles rock crusher lawsuit– The Daily Tribune 04/23/2021 The city of Marble Falls has reached a settlement agreement on a lawsuit filed in 2017 against the TCEQ and Asphalt Inc. concerning a rock crushing facility in Burnet County.
Opinion: Address looming water issues in Comal County before it’s too late. – MyCanyonLake.com 04/13/2021 TRAM member Mark Friesenhahn, comments on HB 3883, which addresses severe and growing water shortages in the Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area (HCPGMA), a nine-county area comprising unincorporated areas located within Bandera, Blanco, Gillespie, Kendall and Kerr counties; and parts of Bexar, Comal, Hays, and Travis counties.
Concrete plant withdraws permit request to build near Mineola Nature Preserve. –KLTV 04/12/2021 Owners of a proposed concrete batch plant that had planned to build near the nature preserve in Mineola will look for a place to build elsewhere, Senator Bryan Hughes of Mineola said Monday.
State rejects hearing requests regarding Midlothian cement plant’s pollution plan – Fort Worth Star-Telegram 04/06/2021 “Holcim’s permit will go through its final steps in the next few months, unless Midlothian Breathe or other residents decide to file for a rehearing from the commissioners….In the meantime, Hunt remains involved with Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining, a coalition of 16 activist groups that launched in September to fight for more statewide regulations on sand and gravel amines along with cement, concrete and asphalt plants.”
Approval for air-quality permit for Vulcan Quarry in Comal County reversed in district court – Community Impact Newspaper, New Braunfels Edition, April 2021 The almost 5 year timeline shown here exemplifies the urgent need for common sense, bi-partisan regulation of the APO industry in Texas.
District Court Issues Final Judgement Order Remanding Vulcan’s Air Permit, 04/01/2021
|On Thursday, Travis County District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued her final judgment order remanding and vacating the air quality permit TCEQ granted to Vulcan Materials. This formalizes the March 5 court decision in our favor without any substantial changes. The court reiterated that “TCEQ’s determination that the plant’s crystalline silica emissions will not negatively affect human health or welfare is not supported by substantial evidence.” Also, that “Vulcan’s silica emissions calculations are not based on representative site conditions.” Furthermore, the order states that TCEQ’s air modeling techniques, exclusion of emissions from the quarry and roads, and choice of background pollution data were “arbitrary and capricious, and not supported by substantial evidence.” While the district court judge affirmed TCEQ’s BACT analysis, the order furthermore stated that, in the contested case hearing, SOAH administrative law judge Rebecca Smith “abused her discretion by ruling that Vulcan could maintain information from its 2016 subsurface investigation…as confidential under the trade secret privilege.” Finally, “Plaintiffs were denied due process such that their substantial rights were prejudiced.” Obviously, this is a huge victory for us, the citizens of Comal County, and the Texas Hill Country. Of course, TCEQ can appeal this decision to the Third Court of Appeals—and they probably will. But this is an incredibly significant, if not unprecedented, setback for Vulcan and TCEQ.|
More Pollution is Headed for Midlothian, the “Cement Capital of Texas” – DallasObserver.com 04/01/2021 After a 1 minute discussion, TCEQ Commissioners voted to approve Holcim’s permit application, which will allow Holcim to potentially triple the amount of particulate matter and add heavy metals into the air around Midlothian.
Mineola residents oppose proposed concrete plant near nature preserve– KLTV, 03/30/2021
Where are the biggest polluters in Dallas-Ft. Worth? These new maps will show you – Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 03/25/2021
Gunter Family living between concrete plants has water flooding into their property – FoxNews12, 03/21/2021
Comal Citizens triumph over TCEQ and Vulcan Quarry in District Court. – HillCountryWeekly.com, 03/11/2021
Can DIY Air Monitoring save DFW Air? – Air quality watchdog groups are increasingly using handheld air monitors to collect their own air quality data. Midlothian Breathe is collecting data needed to determine if TCEQ and the industries that produce air emissions are being straight with them when it comes to environmental matters that may directly affect their health. – GreenSourceDFW, 03/10/2021
Judge Strikes Down Air Quality Permit for Proposed 1,500-Acre Limestone Quarry in Comal County MyCanyonLake.com, 03/06/2021
Kerr County asks Legislature for More Regs on Miners Kerr County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution asking the Texas Legislature to place more regulations on mining operations. – The Kerrville Daily Times, 03/06/2021
Comal Citizens Triumph Over TCEQ and Vulcan Quarry in District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, 459th District Court, Travis County, reverses and vacates quarry air permit granted by TCEQ to Vulcan Materials. 03/05/2021
LCRA issues a moratorium on commercial dredging on the Highland Lakes TRAM appreciates the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) for taking the sensible and responsible step of reviewing the Highland Lakes Water Ordinance in order to protect the Highland Lakes’ water quality, aquatic life and public safety. Inc. DailyTrib.com, 02/25/2021
LCRA sets public meeting on proposed Lake LBJ sand dredging operation A public meeting regarding permits for commercial dredging on Lake LBJ has been set for 6 p.m. March 10 at the Kingsland Community Center, 3451 Rose Hill Drive. The meeting will be conducted by the Lower Colorado River Authority. DailyTrib.com, 02/03/2021
Rock Quarries targeted for new regulations. “A Texas House committee released its recommendations [see chart] and draft legislation on quarry operations earlier this month — and additional regulation may come to what many Texas property owners say is an unchecked industry.” – The Williamson County Sun 01/27/2021
TRAM Press Release “HIC-APO has released its final report and will present its recommendations to the 87th Texas Legislature. All seven legislative committee members, Terry Wilson (R), Armando Martinez (D), Alma Allen (D), J.M. Lozano (R), Andrew Murr (R), Jared Patterson (R), and Erin Zweiner (D), signed the report making it a truly bipartisan endeavor. The two APO industry representatives that had the privilege of being members of the HIC-APO declined to sign the final report.” 01/27/2021
TCEQ to Administer Clean Water Progrm, EPA Announces – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today – EIN Presswire, 01/16/2021
Kerrville approves resolution asking for review of rock crushing plant near manufacturing plants – TodayKerrville, 01/12/2021
Denied Again – Mesquite Concrete Batch Plant for I-635 Project will not go forward. Proposed batch plant would be located just a few hundred feet west of the Christian Care Center of Mesquite, a rehabilitation, assisted living and hospice care facility – East Dallas Greater Good, 01/12/2021
Air pollution a cause of UK girl’s death, finds global landmark ruling Ella Kissi-Debrah, who died in February 2013, is thought to be the first person in the world to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. CNN, 12/16/2020
Concrete and aggregate producers see regulatory bills filed for 2021 As quarries and rock crushers edge closer into residential areas, some people are pushing back, including state legislators who have filed six bills so far for the 2021 Texas legislative session that look to rein in aggregate production operations. DailyTrib.com, 12/10/2020
Midlothian cement pollution plan is moving forward, but residents are not stepping back. Holcim’s Midlothian plant is seeking to increase its maximum output of carbon monoxide from 4,300 tons to 7,100 tons per year. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 12/07/2020
Families threaten to sue over wastewater released into Hill Country waterways. KVUE, 11/24/2020 “…despite more than 50 permit violations cited by the TCEQ, the state now allows Liberty Hill to expand operations to dump 4 million gallons per day”.
As Texas grows, communities face an unwelcome neighbor: concrete companies. Homeowners have few options.Texas Tribune, 11/24/2020
Process begins to form best practices for sand mining companies in San Jacinto River Basin – Community Impact, 11/23/2020
Local state rep proposes bills to mitigate impacts of concrete batch plants The Leader, 11/11/2020 State Rep. Jarvis Johnson is trying to minimize the impacts of such businesses all across the city and state.
Locals shaken by growing rock mining industry in Williamson County, push for reform Community Impact Newspaper, 11/05/2020 Williamson County is home to the most rock mining operations in Texas, which has led community members to seek stronger regulations as the negative impacts of the industry move closer to home.
Gunter concrete pipe plant begins construction without permit, residents respond KXII News, 10/07/2020 South Texas company, Ameritex, has started construction just outside Gunter for their concrete pipe plant, but residents say they don’t have a permit yet. They’re worried about their health and their town’s future.
State Rep. Terry Wilson, Chair of the House Interim Study Committee on Aggregate Production Operations, hosted 3 virtual town hall meetings featuring industry, academic and state agency experts, as well as input from Texans whose lives have been impacted by rapid APO growth. Watch Facebook Live recordings below:
Public voices concerns on final day of rock crusher town halls – DailyTrib.com 10/01/2020
TCEQ opens a public comment period on revised penalty policy proposal and begins Compliance History Rulemaking. …….”The penalty policy was last revised on April 1, 2014. Since then, statutory changes have occurred, and recent incidents have caused significant impacts to the public and the environment demanding accountability within the bounds of TCEQ authority.” 09/30/2020
Please send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 10/30/2020.
Public to speak at Oct. 1 town hall on quarry industry – DailyTrib.com 09/30/2020
TRAM sounds alarm on mining – “This isn’t just about our health or our quality of life,” stated TRAM member and rancher Bill McCabe of Kingwood. “This is about the Texas we will pass on to our grandchildren.” – The Highlander 09/29/2020
Sound off on Rock Crushing – Guest Essay by Rep. Terry Wilson – Williamson County Sun 09/27/2020
Town Halls to address rock crushing and sand mining operations – DailyTrib.com 09/24/2020
Below are a series of interviews done by Colette Nies, a candidate in the Comal County commissioners race, Precinct 3. She interviewed 3 members of PHCE’s tech team covering water, health effects of pollutants from APOs, and air quality and monitoring.
Midlothian moms fighting cement plant’s pollution plan may be down to their last chance – Fort Worth Star-Telegram 08/25/2020
There are at least 188 concrete batch plants in Harris County, more than any other county in Texas. “Literally,” Texas state representative Armando Walle says “you can’t breathe.” – One Breath Partnership 08/12/2020 You don’t want to live near a concrete batch plant. But TCEQ lets it happen too easily
At the behest of industry, legislators have chipped away at the environmental permitting process in Texas, stacking the deck against concerned people protesting industrial projects. – Texas Observer 07/02/2020 How Texas Lawmakers Weakened Citizens’ Rights to Fight Pollution
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) San Antonio Region is investigating an apparent breach in a tailing pond dam at the Anderson Columbia Tejas Quarry (ACCI) in New Braunfels. MyCanyonLake.com 06/03/2020 TCEQ Launches Investigation into Breach in New Braunfels Quarry’s Tailing Pond
KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman hosted a public forum in Marble Falls, Texas to address mining concerns from Hill Country homeowners. Left in the Dust: Public forum addresses quarry industry growth 10/07/2019
Since 2012 the number of registered quarries, rock mining operations and aggregate plants operating in Texas has increased 1,690%. Austin American-Statesman documents interviews with landowners and APO stakeholders. 09/25/2019
Communities clamor for regulation as the Texas mining industry explodes. Award winning documentation and three part video series reported jointly by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE. 09/20/2019
Read More: A World Rocked
Watch Video Series:
Left in the Dust – Part 1 : More than 1,500 new residents are pouring into Texas every day. As they do, limestone and other minerals are necessary to build everything from houses to highways.
Left in the Dust – Part 2 : Some Hill Country communities are turning to lawsuits and incorporation in their fight against rock quarries.
Left in the Dust – Part 3 : For more than a decade Texas lawmakers have flirted with tighter oversight of the state’s multi-billion dollar rock mining industry.
Family Blames Environmental Violations for Illness – KABB FOX29 San Antonio – 11/18/2014 “There are permit violations dating back to 1991. If you were to stack these violations back to back there would be 160 years of violations.”