Carrie Isaac, who represents Canyon Lake in Texas House District 73, Monday filed two separate bills that would place some restrictions on companies like Vulcan Materials, which seeks to turn a former Comal County ranch at FM 3009 and State Highway 46 into a 1,500-acre limestone quarry.
House Bill (HB) 3658 would require aggregate and concrete batch operators to conduct fenceline or property-line monitoring of emissions from their facilities.
HB 3624 would incentivize aggregate miners and concrete plant operators to have reclamation plans for their mines. Operators who have previously utilized reclamation for their projects would be given priority for their applications.
“Texas continues to experience growth by leaps and bounds, and that requires homes, roads, offices, schools and businesses to build and expand,” Isaac said in a statement. “We know it requires aggregate and concrete, and we expect that. I believe these businesses can co-exist with their neighbors and we can all be good stewards of the Hill Country while advancing the needs due to continued growth.”
But David Drewa, spokesperson for a coalition of citizens’ groups fighting the proposed Vulcan Quarry, dismissed Isaac’s bills as only “very tiny steps in the right direction.”
He said Isaac’s predecessor, former Rep. Kyle Biedermann and Rep. Terry Wilson, who represents District 20, in 2019 spearheaded much more comprehensive legislation for quarries and other aggregate production operations (APOs).
“(Isaac’s) legislation is quite vague and appears to leave lots of wiggle room for big polluters to avoid accountability for the big problems they are causing,” Drewa said. “To achieve meaningful protection for Texas citizens and our natural resources, we need legislation with more meat on the bones — and some enforcement teeth.”
Drewa represents Preserve Our Hill Country Environment, Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry, and Friends of Dry Comal Creek, all fighting in court to overturn an air-quality permit issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) which greenlights Vulcan’s plans to build a 2.4-mile limestone quarry in a non-industrial area of Comal County that’s surrounded by 12,000 people.
According to Stop3009vulcanquarry.com, Vulcan’s permit application specifies the plant will perform round-the-clock blasting, mining and crushing operations to crush 1.5 million tons of rock per year.
Drewa’s organizations claim the quarry would generate high levels of carcinogenic dust, put 444 truckloads of crushed limestone per hour in the area around the quarry, tank property values and affect local wells, water levels, and water quality.
On a special website, VulcanComalQuarry.com, Vulcan Materials counters it is committed to investing in the future of Comal County and operating in a safe, socially and environmentally responsible manner.
The company said the proposed quarry is strategically positioned along Highway 46 and would support the local economy and meet growing community needs, including infrastructure and transportation safety improvement.