Environmental Groups Celebrate Judge’s Final Order Vacating Quarry Air-Quality Permit
Last week, Community activist groups thanked Travis County Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble for remanding and vacating an air-quality permit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) granted to Vulcan Materials in 2019.
On Thursday, Gamble issued her final judgment order remanding and vacating the air-quality permit, which essentially greenlighted Vulcan’s plan for turning ranch land in central Comal County into a 1,500-acre, open-pit limestone quarry.
Her ruling was a victory for Stop3009 Vulcan Quarry and Friends of Dry Comal Creek, who fought development of the quarry for years, arguing it would create an environmental nightmare, result in disastrous-and-dangerous traffic scenarios, and destroy property values in an area ringed by 12,000 unsuspecting homeowners and residents.
The final judgment order formalized her March 5 court decision without any substantial changes.
“Obviously, this is a huge victory for us, the citizens of Comal County and the Texas Hill Country,” the groups posted on their joint website. “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.”
- TCEQ’s “determination that the plant’s crystalline silica emissions will not negatively affect human health or welfare is not supported by substantial evidence.”
- Vulcan’s silica-emissions calculations “are not based on representative site conditions.”
- 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.”
- State Office of Administrative Hearings (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.”
Vulcan’s proposed mining operation in the Texas Hill Country would stretch across nearly three miles of the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, the primary water supply for over two million people in New Braunfels and San Antonio.
MyCanyonLake.com reached out to Vulcan Materials last month. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
On its website, Alabama-based Vulcan Materials describes itself as the nation’s largest producer of aggregates-based construction materials, including asphalt and ready-mixed concrete. The company has over 360 active aggregates facilities and over 120 facilities that produce asphalt and/or concrete, which also consume aggregates.