MAY 16 UPDATE: Unfortunately this bill did not make it out of committee. Thank you for all your supportive emails, calls, and testimony!
Good news! Two of the most important bills for us this session have a committee hearing scheduled on Monday, April 8! We strongly support HB 2871 (authored by Representative Kyle Biedermann) and HB 509 (by Representative Terry Wilson).
While not perfect, these similar bills include requirements that will make it more difficult for quarry operators to obtain a permit (instead of the current rubber-stamping process). This legislation would also increase protection for Texas citizens and our natural resources from the negative effects of rock quarries. We need to make our voices heard as soon as possible.
What’s to Like?
Sick and tired of hearing TCEQ claim that they can only consider matters of air quality—and only pollution coming from the crusher? With these bills, in addition to the TCEQ air quality permit, other factors would now be considered: blasting impacts, water supply, water quality and runoff effects.
Unlike many other states, Texas doesn’t currently require a mining permit or regulate mining activities of rock quarries (aggregate production operations). Polluters shouldn’t get a free pass when it comes to mining rock and limestone in Texas. With this legislation, that would change! The Railroad Commission would supervise aggregate mining activities and require water impact studies to be performed.
Unlike TCEQ, the Railroad Commission would be able to perform unannounced inspections.
HB 2871 (Biedermann) requires a reclamation permit: the quarry company must restore land to its natural state after they mine the limestone or other aggregate.
These bills include fines and criminal penalties for willful violations.
On Monday, the House Energy Resources Committee will consider HB 509 and HB 2871. Representatives Biedermann, Wilson, and their staff have worked hard to draft these bills. Now we need to back these bills and help get them passed into law!
Your input will be especially meaningful if you mention how you have seen first-hand how broken the TCEQ permitting and enforcement process is. (Also, if you have friends or relatives living in any districts below, reach out to them: their voices as constituents may be even more powerful.)
We know you are busy. But this is some of the most important legislation under consideration. If at all possible, please make plans to attend and speak at the committee hearing on Monday afternoon (many of your neighbors will be driving to Austin to speak at this hearing).
So grab a couple of neighbors and friends. Car pool if you can! Allow plenty of time for Austin traffic and parking. Sometimes these hearings can last two or three hours, so be prepared (snacks, water, book, etc.). If you have any printed documents or graphics, bring 12 copies. If you have any questions about the process—or anything else—simply email us at email@example.com.
Don’t worry if you haven’t memorized every detail of these bills. That’s fine! Tell your personal story, focus on the fact that TCEQ is broken, and how unbridled aggregate mining is hurting Texas, our health, and our environment.
These failures require legislative solutions with common sense requirements to improve the public health and safety of Texas.
In a video recorded for our March 29 fundraising dinner and auction, Texas State Representative Kyle Biedermann (District 73) speaks about rock quarries and gravel mines, their negative impacts, TCEQ, and legislation that he has authored to resolve some of the related problems.
It is also important to contact your own state representative and state senator and ask them to personally communicate your support for HB 2871 and HB 509 to all members of the Energy Resources Committee.
If you live in Comal, Kendall, or Gillespie counties, Kyle Biedermann is your representative (thank him for authoring HB 2871!):