NTSB opens investigation into Hays school bus crash that killed man, boy – Austin American-Statesman 04/03/2024

The National Transportation Safety Board on Monday opened an incident investigation into the Hays school district crash on March 22 that killed two, including a prekindergarten student.

< Photo: Screenshot of bus dashcam video, released by Hays ISD to the Statesman following public information request.

Citizens, state, county, city leaders voice opposition to TCEQ for proposed cement kiln in Dorchester – 04/01/2024

Denison’s Hilton Garden Inn was packed full of concerned Grayson County residents who were adamantly opposed to a quarry and cement plant proposed on 600 acres in Dorchester by BM Dorchester, LLC.

View full publication here:

< Photo Credit: Staff photo,

In Garden Ridge, residents fight a quarry’s expansion plans – San Antonio Express News 02/28/2024

The city and the quarry’s owners have coexisted for years, but plans to mine 871 acres on a new site have led to open conflict.

< Photo Credit: Josie Norris, SAEN

TCEQ to hold informational hearing on FM 969 rock crusherCommunity Impact 03/04/2024

Bastrop County residents have voiced health and environmental concerns regarding the installation of a rock and cement crusher within Travis Materials’ mining facility. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will hold an informational hearing from 7-9pm March 7. The FM 969 and Wilbarger Bend Road area has seen three new sand and gravel mines in the past two years.

Williamson County residents, leaders raise rock quarry concerns as industry growsCommunity Impact 03/01/2024

Williamson County is home to the most APOs in Texas with 37 registered operations as of March 1. As the county’s APO industry expands, more quarries are located near existing and future residential developments, negatively affecting property and quality of life. Almost 250 people gathered at a forum designed for residents to voice their concerns on February 29th.

Concern grows over booming Williamson County rock quarry industryFox 7 Austin 03/01/2024

Rock quarries took center stage at a community panel in Georgetown. Residents and state leaders talked about the Williamson County quarries and their significant impact to its residents.

EPA sets tougher national soot standards. These 10 Texas counties already exceed them. The Texas Tribune 02/07/2024 Some environmental experts are skeptical that Texas can meet the new rules on particulate matter, which can cause serious respiratory problems. The new rules are the first change in the limits since 2012.

Batch plant in Ft. Worth opposed by Mayor and local Council 02/07/2024 Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker and District 10 council member Alan Blaylock sent a letter to the TCEQ opposing the proposed air quality standard permit for a concrete batch plant at 13001 Old Denton Road from the Forest-Hill based TOR Texas LLC.

EPA investigating cumulative impacts of batch plants in 02/02/2024 The agency has found that the air pollution and particulate matter from concrete batch plants can increase the risk of asthma and cardiac arrest. Now it has launched a pilot project – the first in Texas – that will survey air, water and soil to determine how the combined pollution from this cluster of industrial sites impacts public health in two predominantly minority neighborhoods: West Dallas and Joppa in South Dallas.

Opponents gear up for new fight against proposed Comal County quarry, this time over waterSan Antonio Express-News 12/26/2023 Vulcan Materials Company is planning a quarry on a 1,500-acre property between New Braunfels and Bulverde.

WATER FIGHT: Local group concerned about quarry’s potential impactNew Braunfels Herald-Zeitung 11/25/2023

Fine Particles Kill Thousands of Texans a Year. It’s Likely to Get Worse. – Scientists are increasingly alarmed by the airborne particles routinely released by power plants, petrochemical companies, concrete plants and other sources. The Biden administration is wielding a rarely used authority to tighten regulations for these microscopic particles, which hundreds of scientific articles have linked to heart disease, breast and lung cancer and other ailments. Industry groups and their supporters are digging in to fight the change. – Public Health Watch 10/23/2023

Texas quietly moves to formalize acceptable cancer risk from industrial air pollution The TECQ has quietly proposed maintaining a target cancer risk level for air pollution permits that scientists and public health officials consider inadequate, especially for those that are exposed simultaneously to multiple sources of industrial emissions. – San Antonio Express-News 10/18/2023

Texas court smacks down latest attempt to stop Comal quarry project The court ruling brings the Vulcan Quarry one step closer to becoming reality. Critics have been fighting it for six years. – San Antonio Express-News 10/12/2023

Joppa seeks to push out concrete batch plant A minority-owned neighborhood in southern Dallas is fighting another APO plant. Per capita the neighborhood of Joppa suffers a higher pollution burden than other Dallas area neighborhoods. – Green Source DFW 08/03/2023

Despite Disappointing Legislative Session, TRAM Continues Work To Protect Texas Communities During the 88th legislative session more than 50 proposed bills addressing the aggregate industry were introduced to committees, but few advanced. While TRAM solidified its presence in important discussions with senior legislators and industry leaders, the stark reality remains that state leadership has done little to balance the needs of Texans with the excesses of the aggregate industry. – Focus Daily News 08/04/2023

The ‘1-mile rule’: Texas’ unwritten, arbitrary policy protects big polluters from citizen complaints TCEQ has denied citizens the ability to challenge air pollution permits because they live more than a mile away. This distance test is not codified in Texas law or TCEQ rules, but it appears consistently in TCEQ opinions going back at least 13 years as a means to restrict public challenges to air pollution permits. – Inside Climate News 07/30/2023

A Comal County ranch owner ponders selling his land, setting off another clash between property rights and environmental concerns When the owner applied for a state permit that could pave the way for a subdivision, neighbors and environmentalists rallied against it in the name of protecting the area’s rivers and the Edwards Aquifer. – The Texas Tribune 07/13/2023

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a proposal by its Mine Safety and Health Administration to amend current federal standards to better protect the nation’s miners from health hazards related to exposure to respirable crystalline silica, or silica dust. The proposed rule change will ensure miners have at least the same level of protections as workers in other industries. – News release by Mine Safety & Health Administration 06/30/2023

Save Lake LBJ lays out plan for stopping sand plants Save Lake LBJ is encouraging Highland Lake residents to contact their elected officials and take a stand against two sand and gravel processing plants and two dredging operations to feed them that are proposed for a stretch of shoreline on Lake LBJ in Kingwood. – 06/19/2023

State environmental agency proposes new rules for concrete plants in Texas The TCEQ has proposed changes to concrete batch plant permits including lowering production limits, reducing dust coming from plants and setting minimum distance requirements from nearby communities. – The Texas Tribune 06/12/2023

Texas asphalt plants operate with limited oversight – and communities struggle with pollution A 2-month investigation by KERA NEWS found that the state’s regulatory practices allow asphalt plants like the one in Joppa to operate for years without providing detailed information on the pollution they produce. – Texas Public Radio 06/08/2023

Texas asphalt plants operate with limited oversight – and communities struggle with pollution A 2-month investigation by KERA NEWS found that the state’s regulatory practices allow asphalt plants like the one in Joppa to operate for years without providing detailed information on the pollution they produce. – Texas Standard 06/07/2023

TCEQ OKs Rock and Concrete Crushing Cluster in East Austin The TCEQ granted Ranger Excavating a permit last month for a permanent rock crushing plant despite 86 comments from those that live near it about the dust’s possible health risks and requests for a public meeting that never happened. The area is already home to Capitol Aggregates, Texas Concrete Materials, Aaron Concrete Contractors, Texas Materials-Hergotz Pit, and Marcelo’s Sand & Loam all located within a mile of each other. – The Austin Chronicle 05/26/2023

TACA Applauds Aggregate Mapping Legislation The The Texas Aggregates & Concrete Association (TACA) applauded the passage of Senate Bill 2196, which requires the identification and mapping of state aggregate resource deposits by the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. The bipartisan bill was also supported by Texans for Responsible Aggregate Mining (TRAM), the Austin Regional Group of the Sierra Club and Public Citizen, among others. The bill was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 23 and becomes effective on Sept. 1. – Rock Products 05/25/2023

New Sweden neighbors fight concrete plant to be built nearby More than 100 people from the community of New Sweden attended a public meeting in protest of a proposed concrete-batch plant. Nearly every neighbor who made a comment criticized the TCEQ for “insufficient notification”. – KXAN News 05/24/2023

Bill Passed by TX House Tells ‘Reluctant’ TCEQ It Can Be Indifferent The Texas House of Representatives late Monday night gave preliminary approval to Senate Bill 471, a much-criticized piece of legislation allowing the TCEQ to ignore community complaints against polluters. – Public Citizen 05/23/2023

Kerr County Goes Big on BMPs Operators, Community Activists and the Local Government are working together to create a more collaborative environment through a focus on Voluntary Best Management Practices. -Rock Products 05/10/2023

The threat that could undo key program at TCEQ The recently passed Senate Bill 471 seeks to weaken Texan’s voices in shaping the health of their local communities by reducing the effectiveness of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s citizen complaint program. -Abeline Reporter News 05/06/2023

TCEQ moves forward in approval process for east Austin rock-crushing plant, despite pushback. A state agency is moving forward in the approval process for a rock-crushing plant despite pushback from neighbors who feel it’s way too close to their homes. – KXAN 04/25/2023

Senator’s bill would fine Texans for multiple environmental complaints that don’t lead to enforcement The bill would impose fines when residents make more than three complaints to the state environmental agency in a year if they don’t result in enforcement action. Critics warn the bill would discourage people from reporting pollution. – The Texas Tribune 04/17/2023

Fight over planned concrete plant has emotions running high in Garden Ridge Residents of Garden Ridge, a town of about 4,000 just across the Comal County line from Bexar County, say they are concerned the plant would lead to increased dust and traffic, as well as the proposed site’s proximity to homes, a church and a preschool. – San Antonio Express-News 04/04/2023

Environmental activists in Houston, across Texas call for increased pollution enforcement by TCEQ The TCEQ was the subject of a hearing Thursday by the Texas House Committee on Environmental Regulation regarding House Bill 1505 which includes reforms for the TCEQ in response to a sunset review of the agency. Air Alliance Houston and Public Citizen said they support the current version of the proposed bill, which would increase maximum fines for polluters, among other measures. – Houston Public Media 03/27/2023

Top EPA official tours pollution hot spots in Midlothian, Arlington. ‘I hear the frustration’ For the first time, Earthea Nance, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 6, toured Midlothian and Arlington to learn more about residents’ experiences and concerns with industrial pollution. – Fort Worth Report 03/19/2023

Texas Bill Would Fine People for Filing Multiple Environmental Complaints to TCEQ– State Sen. Drew Springer filed a bill that would impose a fine on people who submit multiple complaints to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Springer says the bill would help conserve TCEQ resources, but environmental advocates say it could discourage people from filing legitimate complaints to the state agency altogether. – Dallas Observer 03/17/2023

Growth must be balanced — or Texas will be lost. Simply stated, we are on a collision course with infrastructure overload and resource shortages, both of which will negatively impact our beautiful Texas. Letter to the Editor by Mark Friesenhan – New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung 03/11-12/2023

Environmental Advocates push feds to investigate Texas’ enforcement of water quality The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to investigate allegations that the state is failing to enforce the Clean Water Act. Environmentalists say the TCEQ’s system of issuing permits has made it too easy for industries to contaminate rivers, lakes and estuaries. The Texas Tribune – 02/01/2023

After Mansfield neighbors blocked concrete batch plant, Texas poised to adjust air quality regulations. A group of Tarrant County homeowners became the first in the state to successfully convince the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to deny a concrete batch plant permit request in 2021. The ramifications of that legal battle continue to be felt today, with 2023 set to be a crucial year for concrete batch plant regulations and the future of the TCEQ. Fort Worth Report – 01/03/2023

News 12 investigates: A small community’s fight for cleaner air in Gunter. – 12/29/2022

Part 3 – News 12 talked to lawmakers about how they are addressing the concerns about air quality in Gunter.

News 12 investigates: A small community’s fight for cleaner air in Gunter. – 12/28/2022

Part 2 – Residents said they are feeling the effects of the air quality firsthand, and finding it harder to breathe.

News 12 investigates: A small community’s fight for cleaner air in Gunter. – 12/27/2022

Part 1 – A group in Gunter, texas is pushing to change concrete batch plant regulations to consider the proximity to other plants on permit applications

Texans affected by pollution from concrete plants push state agency to tighten regulations As TCEQ weights new pollution limits on the plants, several lawmakers have filed bills that would put new restrictions on the facilities which spew pollutants into mostly low-income neighborhoods. The Texas Tribune – 11/18/2022

Comal Residents continue to oppose quarry Environmental organizations in the Hill Country requested a rehearing with the full 3rd Court of Appeals this month after Vulcan Materials – an Alabama based construction company – secured its air quality permit for its new quarry from the state. San Antonio Express-News – 11/15/2022

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. – 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

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

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 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 selectedSan 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 ClubDallas 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 watersSan 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 regulationHouston 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 plantsSan 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 regulationsThe 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 CreekSan 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 CouncilsRock 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 OperationsThe 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 caseThe 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 plantFort 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 settledDaily 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 CountySan 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 lawsuitThe 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.

Water shortages must be addressedHerald-Zeitung 04/17/2021 Local Guest Columnist, Mark Friesenhahn, discusses serious and imminent water shortage issues due to Texas’s massive growth, and how HB 3883 can better align our growth with available resources.

Opinion: Address looming water issues in Comal County before it’s too late. – 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 planFort 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.”

HB 3883: Help Preserve Hill Country Water Resources04/03/2021 – Legislation like HB 3883 could positively affect the future of the Texas Hill Country for decades to come. Committee Hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 6th. What to do now!

Approval for air-quality permit for Vulcan Quarry in Comal County reversed in district courtCommunity 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” 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.

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

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., 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., 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

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., 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”.

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:

APO Town Hall Day 1: APO Industry Impacts on the Texas Economy (09/29/20)

APO Town Hall Day 2: Environmental, health and infrastructure impacts of APOs (09/30/20)

APO Town Hall Day 3: Impacts of APOs on Texans (10/01/20)

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: by 10/30/2020.

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

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. 

Episode 10: Jack Oliver, Geologist, discusses caves, quarries, TCEQ and protecting the Edwards Aquifer
Episode 11: Dr. Keith Randolph, Pathologist, discusses health effects of PM2.5, PM10 respirable crystalline silica.
Episode 12: Don Everingham, Mining Expert, on understanding air quality / air 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. 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

Watch Video

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.”