AUSTIN—The hearing on Friends of Dry Comal Creek v. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will be held on Tuesday, December 8, at 9:00 a.m., in 459th District Court, Travis County. Citizens’ groups Friends of Dry Comal Creek and Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry filed the lawsuit against TCEQ in February of this year to appeal TCEQ’s decision to grant an air pollution permit to Vulcan Construction Materials, LLC.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble is assigned to the case and will preside over Tuesday’s hearing. Due to COVID-19, the hearing will be conducted via Zoom and broadcast publicly on the YouTube channel of the 459th District Court, Travis County (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF_rPoUGrNEGiqEtiAPTLEg).
This lawsuit is the latest step taken by area residents and groups to oppose a proposed 1500-acre quarry in Comal County, between New Braunfels and Bulverde. Vulcan’s new open-pit limestone mining operation in the Texas Hill Country would stretch across nearly three miles of the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.
Plaintiffs are asking the court to reverse TCEQ’s permit approval decision and send the application back for “lawful evaluation,” citing the following failures and prejudices during the June 2019 contested case hearing:
Legal errors during discovery and trial
Capricious and arbitrary exclusion of relevant data from air pollution modeling
Failure to account for diesel exhaust emissions
Allowing TCEQ staff guidance to supersede statutory state law
Failing to require case-by-case determination of emission reductions
During the contested case hearing, the administrative law judge allowed Vulcan to use a “trade secret” excuse to hide from both TCEQ and area residents key core sample data used to calculate expected air pollution. At the hearing, Vulcan revealed that they had since destroyed most of the core samples they obtained from the property. Additionally, the administrative judge did not allow opponents to cross-examine Vulcan about this disputed core sample data.
But this isn’t just another “not in my backyard” issue. David Drewa, Director of Communications for Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry states, “This proposed facility should be very concerning to residents of San Antonio and New Braunfels—and all two million people who depend on the Edwards Aquifer as their primary source of drinking water.”
The court is expected to render a decision in the case within a month or so. In October, in a separate case, Judge Guerra Gamble ruled for Save Our Springs Alliance, striking down a wastewater discharge permit recently issued by TCEQ to the City of Dripping Springs.
“We are optimistic that after considering the evidence of our case, the court will reverse TCEQ’s unjust and unfounded decision to grant the Vulcan Materials air permit in Comal County,” stated Drewa.
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.