Fraser: Advisory Committee on Rock Crushers to Meet March 29
AUSTIN -- State Senator Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, has scheduled the first meeting of the Advisory Committee on Rock Crushers and Quarries for March 29 in Austin.
Fraser, chairman of the nine-member committee appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to examine the state's permitting process for rock crushers, said he will invite the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to brief the committee on the permitting process and the scope of the industry's operations in Texas.
"I'm looking to strike a balance between making sure the public's concerns are heard and taken into consideration, without making it impossible for the industry to operate," Fraser said. "There appears to be a disconnect between the public, the agency that issues the permits, and the regulated industry, and that's one of the areas the committee will focus on."
Fraser said the TCEQ staff has been asked to provide extensive data on its permitting process, as well as the number of rock crushing operations and their locations.
"This first hearing is really intended to lay out the committee's tentative work plan and to get the members up to speed on the way TCEQ handles permitting now," Fraser said.
Fraser became heavily involved in the issue of rock crusher permits more than two years ago after Burnet County citizens objected to a proposed rock crusher and quarry operation south of the Burnet city limits. Burnet County has an abundance of limestone deposits and is a prime target for quarry and rock crusher operations.
Under current state law, proposed rock crushing operations need only to demonstrate that air quality in the surrounding area will not be impacted. Fraser said the committee will examine whether other factors, such as noise, blasting operations, increased truck traffic on local highways, the impact on water quality and land reclamation, should be added to the permitting process.
The advisory committee comprises six members of the Texas Legislature and three public members.
In addition to Fraser, the following legislators serve on the committee: Senators Kenneth Armbrister, D-Victoria and Frank Madla, D-San Antonio; state Representatives Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton; Byron Cook, R-Corsicana; and Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin.
The three public members of the committee are Burnet County Commissioner James Oakley; John V. Lattimore, president and CEO of Lattimore Properties; and John R. Weisman, president of Hunter Industries, Inc.
Under Executive Order RP-22 issued by the governor, the committee is charged with studying "the authority of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to consider all appropriate issues in permitting and regulating rock crushers, including rock crushers operating in association with quarries."
The committee, after conducting a series of public hearings, will submit a report, including recommendations for changes to the permitting laws, to the governor and Legislature no later than December 31, 2004.
The March 29 hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. in Room E1.012 of the Capitol Extension.