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Opinion: Rep. Biedermann Praises Judge for Reversing and Vacating Vulcan’s Air-Quality Permit

Image courtesy of Rep. Kyle Biedermann.

by Rep. Kyle Biedermann, Texas House of Representatives District 73

Judge Maya Gamble, of the 459th District Court, ruled on Friday, March 5, to reverse and vacate the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) granting of an air quality permit for Vulcan Materials is substantial and critical to the citizens of Comal County and other areas around the State of Texas.

Among her findings and conclusions, she did not support the TCEQ declaration that the operations of the Vulcan Materials, Inc. rock quarry would not harm human health or welfare. Judge Gamble concluded that this claim was not supported by evidence.

Over three years ago, I visited with the TCEQ leadership and recommended that they in conjunction with the Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association (TACA) conduct a statewide comprehensive air quality study of the Aggregate Production Operations (APO’s) Industry.

At that time, I believed that there was credible evidence to show that the citizens of Texas needed to have a public-health assessment performed to determine if the air emissions from rock quarries were harmful to the surrounding communities. In that three-year timeframe, the TCEQ unfortunately moved only two air monitors in Comal County closer to existing rock quarry operations and they also collected limited air quality data.

This level of effort was unacceptable. Most recently, the Texas House Committee Interim Study on APO’s recommended that a similar air quality study be conducted. It is very unfortunate and troubling that the TCEQ leadership did not pursue conducting a study to determine the existing air quality conditions of APO facilities and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

I wanted then and now for the TCEQ to state the facts to the public regarding the knowns and uncertainties about the air-quality emissions coming from single rock quarries and in areas where multiple rock quarries are located.

Because of Judge Gamble’s decision and the supportable science information collected by the Comal County affected stakeholders, the TCEQ should aggressively move forward using the best science and public health information in reviewing and approving APO air quality permits.

I am personally appreciative of the courageous people and organizations that collected, prepared, and defended their positions with clarity before Judge Gamble. Their positive efforts are noble and admirable and show the public how important it is to persevere for something you strongly believe in.

The public health of Texans should be foremost in the minds of the TCEQ leaders, and I am committed to work closely with them and my fellow legislators to advance the public’s trust and credibility in sound science and public health

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