AUSTIN—Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry and Friends of Dry Comal Creek have filed a motion for rehearing their case in opposition to the air quality permit requested by Vulcan Construction Materials, LLC. The motion was filed with the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) on Monday by Frederick, Perales, Allmon & Rockwell, P.C., attorneys representing citizen groups comprising over 100 individuals and associations opposing the proposed quarry.
In June 2017, Vulcan submitted an air quality permit application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to construct and operate a rock crushing facility on 1500 acres in Comal County. Vulcan plans to convert the former cattle ranch (White Ranch) to an open-pit limestone and gravel mining operation stretching across nearly three miles of the Texas Hill Country, between Bulverde and New Braunfels.
A month ago, following the contested case hearing, TCEQ commissioners decided to grant the air quality permit to Vulcan. The motion for rehearing requests that TCEQ commissioners reconsider their permit decision.
In the motion, groups cite several reasons that TCEQ should reverse their permit approval:
Failure to require or conduct a health effects review
Failure to consider air pollution sources such as roads, mining and blasting operations, and product transport
Failure to consider cumulative impact of pollution from certain existing aggregate plants in the area
Failure to undertake a Best Available Control Technology analysis
Failure to analyze health impact from diesel engine exhaust
The motion states that according to Texas law, TCEQ “may permit a facility only if the Commission finds no indication the facility will harm the public’s health and physical property.” But neither Vulcan nor TCEQ performed a health effects review when evaluating the permit application, claiming that this facility was exempt from that review.
TCEQ now has 30 days to act on the motion, which could result in a new SOAH hearing. Milann Guckian, president of Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry, commented, “I’m hoping that Santa got my Christmas list this year: a new, fairer, and more favorable hearing was at the top!” However, in the event of an unfavorable decision, the groups will move to the next steps in the process: “We will continue to pursue all legal options available to block this facility, including the appeals process for the air permit, in order to protect the health of our families and our natural resources.”
In addition to obtaining an air quality permit, Vulcan must still submit a Water Pollution Abatement Plan (WPAP) to TCEQ. This is required since the proposed quarry is located entirely over the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, the primary source of drinking water for over two million people. Vulcan has not yet submitted their WPAP, but area citizens and organizations are prepared to oppose this plan should it contain insufficient protections for our water quality and our water supply.
Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry is a grassroots-driven campaign opposed to the 1500-acre open-pit limestone quarry proposed by Vulcan Materials in a residential area of central Comal County, between Bulverde and New Braunfels.