Vulcan Quarry opponents lost an important legal battle this week.
Texas Third District Court of Appeals denied a request for an “en banc” review of their case before a full court, allowing a 2022 decision by a three-panel judge to stand and reinstate an air-quality permit for the proposed limestone quarry at FM 3009 and SH-46.
Friends of Dry Comal Creek, Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry, the Reeh Group and Comal ISD last year appealed the panel’s ruling, arguing it was authored by J. Woodfin Jones, an unelected, retired judge who was “sitting by assignment” when he ruled in favor of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and Vulcan Materials.
On Twitter today, Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry said it will appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court.
“We know this is a tough road, and the chances of reversal are low,” the group said. “But no one ever said going up against #TCEQ and Vulcan was going to be easy…We feel it prudent to continue the fight against Vulcan’s air permit. It’s not a speed race, it’s a marathon. While we continue the fight against Vulcan’s air permit, we are simultaneously pursuing other options, including protection of our water resources (Edwards and Trinity) as well as the Dry Comal Creek and #Comal River watersheds. Of course, we were hoping for a better outcome at the Third Court of Appeals, but this is nowhere close to a done deal.”
According to Ballotpedia.org, Jones was the chief justice on the Third District Court of Appeals. He was first elected in 1988, left at the end of 2000 and was elected as chief justice in 2008. He retired on Dec. 31, 2014.
Quarry opponents, who have fought the project tooth-and nail for over five years, say the proposed quarry 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. The former 1,500-acre Eric White Ranch, site of the proposed quarry, is ringed with subdivisions with an estimated population of around 12,000 people.
In addition to raising serious concerns about carcinogenic dust, the proposed quarry would create nightmare traffic scenarios and tank property values of homes within a five-mile radius, they say.
Vulcan Materials and TCEQ did not comment publicly on this week’s ruling but according to a company website, Vulcan is “committed to investing in the future of Comal County and operating in a safe, socially and environmentally responsible manner. Our construction aggregates help grow and sustain communities, going into roads, bridges, residential and commercial buildings, schools, hospitals and places of worship.”
The project will “fit” within the existing landscape and topography, Vulcan said, including 600+ acres of buffer, setbacks, and non-mining areas.