NEW BRAUNFELS—Comal County residents are turning out to an official public meeting this coming Tuesday to confront plans to build a massive limestone quarry in their beloved Hill Country community. The meeting was called by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and follows sustained and substantial outcry from neighbors in the area between Bulverde and New Braunfels where controversial operator Vulcan Materials plans to build a 1,500-acre—2.4 square mile—site in the middle of a residential community.
“This is a quiet, residential Hill Country community and we do not want our land, water and air contaminated for the next 80 years—our kids deserve better,” Sabrina Houser-Amaya, a leader of the Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry campaign said. “If our state environmental agency does what is best for the environment and for area property owners there is no way that TCEQ should allow this facility to be built.” She adds, “Despite the claims from Vulcan Materials that they will be a ‘good neighbor,’ how can you be a good neighbor when you pollute the air with carcinogenic dust and place a quarry directly over the Edwards Recharge Zone thus affecting groundwater quality and quantity to Comal and Bexar County residents? Vulcan Materials states that this quarry will have an 80-year life expectancy.”
“Having lived downwind from a Vulcan quarry in Bexar County, I’ve seen first-hand the fundamental failure of TCEQ’s oversight to Vulcan’s violations, going back decades,” says Krystal Henagan, Texas Field Consultant for Moms Clean Air Force. “History shows us two things: Vulcan’s poor performance history at other facilities should make us fundamentally question their ability to meet the permit conditions of this latest quarry venture. And unfortunately, we can’t be assured that our state environmental agency will hold them accountable if and when they are in violation. This has real-life consequences and victims: our children. Nationally, 1 in 12 children have asthma; here, it’s 1 in 7, the highest rate in the state. My son is one of those children. Our state’s weak oversight makes it hard to protect him from the air pollution that makes his asthma worse. My son and all children in our region deserve better.”
WHERE: New Braunfels Civic Convention Center, 375 S. Castell Ave., New Braunfels, TX 78130
BACKGROUND: In 2017, Vulcan Materials applied for an air quality permit with TCEQ that will allow them to pollute the air near a proposed quarry stretching over 2.4 miles near SH 46 and FM 3009 in Comal County. More than 12,000 people live in the area, and the permit would allow round-the-clock blasting, mining, and crushing at the facility, producing substantial quality of life impacts as well as air, water, and light pollution. Seismic damage to nearby foundations and sensitive groundwater formations are also likely, as well as possible impact on Natural Bridge Caverns; animals at The Wildlife Ranch; bats at Bracken Bat Cave; and the endangered Golden Cheeked Warbler whose breeding grounds are all around this quarry site.
“We have invested our livelihoods into these homes and properties, and if they can come and wreck our homes they can do it to anybody,” Milann Guckian said. “They will dry up our wells, wash out our night time skies, damage our roads, harm our air, and create real problems for our air quality as this permit lays out. We need our public officials and the TCEQ to say NO to this ill-advised proposal.”
Vulcan Materials has been a controversial operator in other area sites, with over 80 formal complaints filed in Texas alone in the last 5 years and at least 35 permit violations identified at another San Antonio area operation. Medina County residents had their property seized through eminent domain in 2017 when Vulcan wanted to build a rail line to another facility. In addition to this, truck traffic to/from this quarry site promises to bring as many as 410 additional 18-wheeler truck trips a day across two-lane county roads. Per Houser-Amaya, “the roads which Vulcan will primarily traveling were not built to accommodate and are ill-equipped to handle the degree of increased volume and weight of 410 – 80,000 lb. trucks. Any road that Vulcan Materials uses, their trucks will be passing schools, increase travel time for residents and first responders, and to add insult to injury, Vulcan Materials is not required to foot the bill for repair. Those costs are borne by all the taxpayers.”
Residents have written hundreds of letters to TCEQ staff and area legislators who compelled the agency to call the February 27 meeting. Residents are concerned that the agency will rubber stamp the facility only to have the quarry attract more industrial uses to the area over time, including concrete batch plants, asphalt production, and other related processes.
“We cannot let this quarry be the camel’s nose under the tent in Comal County,” Houser-Amaya said. “If they put this in the middle of our beloved Hill Country no telling what will come next, and the quiet community we have worked so hard to build will be ruined. We need our public officials and TCEQ to look out for the public interest and reject this permit.”
Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry is a grassroots-driven campaign opposed to Vulcan Material’s proposed 1500-acre open-pit rock quarry in a residential area of central Comal County, between Bulverde, Spring Branch, Garden Ridge, and New Braunfels.