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.”