Fraser Legislation Stiffens Permit Requirements for Rock Crushers
AUSTIN -- State Senator Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, filed legislation today that would give more authority to county officials and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to restrict the issuance of rock crusher permits.
Senate Bill 913 would apply to the proposed Capitol Aggregates, Ltd., quarry and rock crushing operation that would be located just south of Burnet on U.S. Highway 281 if its permit is not approved by the TCEQ before September 1.
"The situation with Capitol Aggregates in Burnet County underscores the need to give county commissioners more authority in the permitting process," Fraser said. "Even though the people of Burnet County are opposed to another mining operation and all the problems that go with it, they have little say in the matter under current state law."
Under Fraser's bill, new permits could not be issued if:
- The rock crusher is located within one-half mile of an established residence, church, school, hospital, day care center, surface body of water used for public drinking supply or dedicated park.
- The county commissioners court notifies the TCEQ that it has determined the proposed rock crusher would affect the health, safety and welfare of the county residents, or that the use of the affected land as a location for the proposed rock crusher is an inappropriate land use considering the surrounding land uses.
The bill also requires permit applicants to submit an environmental impact analysis to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the commissioners court before a permit can be issued by the state.
It also requires applicants to study the effects that the proposed facility will have on groundwater and surface water, roads, and traffic volume in the area.
Under the legislation, a permit to construct a rock crushing facility will include or require:
- Any conditions determined by the commissioners court to be necessary to ensure that emissions from the facility do not degrade the quality of air within a five-mile radius of the facility, or the quality of water in the area.
- The facility to install and operate air quality monitors in the area affected by the rock crusher.
- Monitoring and recording of quarry activities such as blasting, operating heavy equipment, stockpiling, crushing and screening materials, and storing, transferring and distributing crushed materials.
- Replacement of vegetation at the quarry;
- Topsoil and vegetation be maintained to minimize emissions from the quarry.
- Reclamation in stages and the completion of the reclamation not later than the first anniversary of the date the quarry closed;
- The facility to comply with recommendations made by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Wildlife Service, Parks and Wildlife and the commissioners court of the county as a result of the environmental impact analysis;
Under the bill, permits would limit the size of the quarry (acres and depth); blasting operations; the size, weight and number of vehicles using roads associated with the facility; and the amount of material that it may be stockpiled for crushing.
Fraser has been actively engaged in the permitting process for the facility since April 2002 when he sought a public meeting and a contested hearing to be held by state officials before deciding whether to issue the required air quality permit.
"I have said from the beginning of this process that any action I take on this proposal will be based on the views held by the people of Burnet County," Fraser said.
"The Burnet County Commissioners Court remains unanimously opposed to operation of this facility for a wide range of reasons including a concern about degrading our air quality, the possible contamination of the surface and groundwater, and the increased truck traffic on a highway that is already overcrowded between Marble Falls and Burnet," Fraser said.
"The cities of Marble Falls, Burnet and Bertrum and the county sheriff have all expressed concerns about this proposed mining operation, and this legislation reflects their wishes," Fraser added.
The proposed 540-acre rock crushing operation is located about four miles south of Burnet's city limits near the intersection of U.S. 281 and Park Road 4.
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