MYTH: Vulcan is a good neighbor, respects the environment, and follows regulations.
In Texas alone, over 80 formal complaints have been filed with the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) against Vulcan since 2002. Vulcan’s Loop 1604 plant has cited over 35 violations of air, storm water, and wastewater regulations during the past several years.1 Violations included exceeding air pollution limits, failure to construct and maintain permanent spray bars, failure to perform benchmark monitoring, and various hazardous waste violations. A good neighbor would be respectful of our natural resources and follow the law. Clearly Vulcan has no intentions of being a good neighbor.
MYTH: When Vulcan disregards regulations, TCEQ will hold them accountable.
TCEQ has a poor track record of monitoring and enforcing compliance as well as a history of overlooking violations,2 discounting already-small fines,3 and firing apparent whistleblowers.4 Furthermore, ensuring that Vulcan will not exceed TCEQ air contamination limits will be impossible. Why? There are no air quality monitors in Comal County! The nearest station measuring particulate matter dust, diesel emissions, and ozone is in San Antonio—17 miles upwind. Finally, TCEQ only considers monitoring inside the gravel pit. Any air quality issues outside the fence line are not the responsibility of Vulcan or TCEQ!
According to Vulcan, they will only create “15-20 direct full-time jobs at full production.” By comparison, a single grocery or discount store like H-E-B or Walmart typically employs 200-300 people per store—and doesn’t cause ecosystem degradation across a three-mile swath of the Hill Country.
MYTH: The quarry will increase property tax revenue.
Vulcan’s 1,077-acre Loop 1604 plant generated just $19,000 in tax revenue for Bexar County, and $87,000 for Northeast ISD in 2017.5 In contrast, the 6,364 properties—mostly residential—located within five miles of the proposed Comal County quarry are valued at 1.7 billion dollars.6 Studies have shown that these homes and ranches will lose up to 20 percent of their market value.7,8 Total losses are estimated at over 100 million dollars. Comal County, Comal ISD, and emergency services districts will actually face a net loss of approximately $2,000,000 in property tax revenue per year.
MYTH: Since the land belongs to Vulcan, we have to respect their property rights and let them do anything they wish.
Protection of private property is foundational to our society and government—and especially valued in Texas. But an out-of-state corporation like Vulcan should not be given preferential treatment or allowed to trample the private property rights of residents and ranchers who have lived here for decades. For the next 80 years, Vulcan’s actions will create multi-layered problems that will spill far beyond their fence line, negatively impacting the health, natural resources, and private property of over 12,000 Comal County citizens.
MYTH: The quarry will have just one entry/exit—on FM 3009.
Apparently that is the initial plan. But offers have reportedly been made to property owners on Beck Road about buying their land—perhaps for quicker access to FM 1863 and US Highway 281 via Beck Road—or maybe to expand the mining area even further. For a quarry this large—stretching across nearly three miles of Comal County—an additional point of access to Highway 46 is certainly conceivable; and construction of a railroad line is not unrealistic. In addition to mining and rock crushing, quarry locations frequently add cement plants, concrete-forming operations, asphalt plants, and other industrial capabilities to their sites. Those operations add even more truck traffic, noise, and disruption to the surrounding area.
MYTH: Vulcan has worked with TxDOT to make road improvements for safe traffic flow.
Neither Vulcan nor TxDOT has released any road improvement plans. Since any plans to expand public roadways are not included in the permit application, Vulcan is under no obligation to follow through on any such promises. Will they? The road used by Vulcan’s Helotes plant (Leslie Road), is still just one lane in each direction—decades after Vulcan began operations there. In 2014, while walking to school, a student named Cody Culp was hit and dragged by an 18-wheeler on this very road.9 If Vulcan isn’t a good neighbor in Helotes or San Antonio, why should they treat Comal County any better?
MYTH: This is a done deal—there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
While TCEQ has issued preliminary approval for the air quality permit, this fight is far from over. Following the February public meeting, TCEQ will issue a Response to Comments. If the permit is approved partially or entirely, citizens will be able to respond and claim “affected party” status. Then affected parties will be granted a Contested Case Hearing—similar to a civil trial. Take action now to stop Vulcan by contacting public officials, contributing to fund legal expenses, and continuing to spread the word!