FRASER FILES QUARRY PERMIT BILL
Austin -- State Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) filed legislation on Monday that would give the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality the authority to regulate rock quarries.
"This is a major step toward increasing regulations for quarries and rock crushing operations," Fraser said. "SB 785 will address public concerns over water protection, blasting safety and traffic control, which are needed to provide greater public safety."
This past interim, Senator Fraser chaired the Advisory Committee on Rock Crushers and Quarries. The committee, created by Governor Perry through an Executive Order, was charged with studying the current permitting process for rock crushers and quarries.
Current law seeks to only protect air quality in the permitting process by limiting emissions through measures specified in the permit. Similarly, protection of water quality is addressed in a limited fashion through the issuance of a stormwater discharge permit.
"Once we started examining the current permitting process, I quickly realized that the issues of most concern to the public -- water, blasting, transportation -- are not considered under current law," Fraser said.
Under Fraser's bill, the quarry permit would require:
- A site plan, assessing the environmental soundness of the proposed operation, including a report from an independent hydrologist.
- A blasting plan, including a requirement that all blasting be monitored with a seismograph or vibration monitor.
- A reclamation plan detailing how all affected land at the proposed quarry site will be returned to a useful purpose.
- A requirement that quarry operators properly construct and maintain all access driveways, acceleration/deceleration lanes, and turn lanes when needed so that the site entrances are safe for the traveling public.
Fraser has also filed two other bills which would enact further recommendations from the Advisory Committee. "These bills continue to raise the bar on industry standards while increasing community safety and awareness," Fraser said.
Senate Bill 456 requires vehicles carrying loads of aggregate to be completely tarped. Senate Bill 457 adds that the county judge and county commissioner who represent the area where the facility will be located must also be notified of air quality permit applications.
Fraser has been actively involved in quarry and rock crusher permitting issues since October 2002 when Capital Aggregates, a San Antonio based company, first approached him about a proposed facility in Burnet County. After several years of intense negotiations, Burnet County and Capital Aggregates signed an agreement this past January that Fraser says was the guiding force in developing the legislation.
"This is an industry in need of additional state regulation. These operations have an lasting impact on air, water and the quality of life in the communities where they operate," Fraser said. "These changes are essential to protect the state's natural resources and the public's safety."