Court to Hear Arguments Over Air Quality Permit for Vulcan Quarry
A citizens group fighting to keep Vulcan Materials from turning the old Eric White Ranch into a 1,500-acre limestone rock quarry and crushing plant in Central Comal County gets its day in court on Tuesday.
Judge Mayra Guerra Gamble with the 459th District Court will preside over a 9 a.m. Zoom hearing on Friends of Dry Comal Creek v. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The hearing can be viewed live on the court’s YouTube channel.
Friends of Dry Comal Creek, an umbrella group that includes Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry, is appealing TCEQ’s February decision to grant an air-pollution permit to Vulcan Construction Materials LLC. The quarry site would be located at FM 3009 and State Highway 46. An estimated 12,000 people live in the immediate vicinity of the property, located in a residential area of Central Comal County between Bulverde and New Braunfels.
The lawsuit is the latest step taken by area residents and groups to oppose the open-pit limestone operation in the Texas Hill Country. If developed, the new quarry would stretch across nearly three miles of the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer Zone, Friends of Dry Comal Creek said in a press release.
“This proposed facility should be very concerning to residents of San Antonio and New Braunfels, and to all two million people who depend on the Edwards Aquifer as a primary source of drinking water,” said David Drewa, director of Communications for Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry.
“We are optimistic that after considering the evidence of our case, the court will reverse TCEQ’s unjust and unfounded decision to grant the Vulcan Materials air permit in Comal County,” he said.
Plaintiffs are asking the court to reverse TCEQ’s permit-approval decision and send the application back for “lawful” evaluation.
Friends of Dry Comal Creek cited the following “failures and prejudices” during a June 2019 contested-case hearing:
- Legal errors during discovery and trial
- Capricious and arbitrary exclusion of relevant data from air-pollution modeling
- Failure to account for diesel-exhaust emissions
- Allowing TCEQ staff guidance to supersede statutory state law
- Failing to require case-by-case determination of emission reductions
The court is expected to render a decision in the case within a month or so.
Vulcan Materials Company is the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates — primarily crushed stone, sand and gravel — and is a major producer of aggregates-based construction materials including asphalt and ready-mixed concrete.
In 2019, Vulcan attorney Keith Courtney said applications for rock-crushing plants are common and that TCEQ has issued hundreds.
Vulcan spokesperson Scott Burnham said Vulcan is committed to Comal County and to doing things the right way.
“We look forward to working with our neighbors and the community,” he said.