People in the Hill Country are up in arms about aggregate production operations (APOs). The Lake Houston Area is not alone. State Representative Kyle Biedermann of Fredericksburg has introduced yet another bill to regulate APOs. Biedermann’s bill, HB2871 focuses on mine reclamation. His bill targets APOs that quarry and crush rock, but the bill, if passed, would affect sand mines in our area, too.
Focus on Reclamation
HB2871 requires miners to acquire a reclamation permit BEFORE they can acquire a production permit. It would also require them to file a performance bond ensuring reclamation BEFORE acquiring that production permit.
Gives Primary Enforcement Responsibility to Railroad Commission
HB2871 places the burden of enforcement on the Texas Railroad Commission. However, it allows the Railroad Commission to use the resources of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
I first learned about HB2871 from a Hill County group protesting the permitting of a quarry. They approached me asking for support. It certainly appears that our interests align. And the author wrote the bill in such a way that it would apply to this area, too. I have previously blogged about the problem of abandoned and unsafe sand pits. We have many in the Lake Houston area. Once the last truckload of profit goes out of a mine, owners have little incentive to reclaim it.
Currently, owners are required to file a reclamation plan before getting a reclamation permit, but there is no requirement to actually execute the plan when they are done mining.
This page on the Hill Country group’s web site explains their loss of faith in the TCEQ, and hence, their desire to have the Railroad Commission oversee regulation.
How to Act NOW
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 them and help get them passed into law! HB 509, you may remember, requires a permitting agency to consider the aggregate impact of multiple mining operations in a small area before permitting any more.
Below are the names, phone numbers and email addresses of all the members of the House Energy Resources Committee who are soliciting comments. If you have friends or relatives living in any districts below, reach out to them: their voices as constituents may be even more powerful. Please call or write and encourage friends and relatives to do the same.
Here is a SAMPLE EMAIL developed by the Hill Country group. Remember to tweak the copy so that it applies to this area, not just the Hill Country.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/5/2019
584 Days since Hurricane Harvey