How TACA is Winning the Battle to Continue Pillaging Your Environment and Polluting Your Water

In March, as the pandemic spread across America, the Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association gave a presentation to a convention of industry producers in Las Vegas. The title: “Be Prepared: Protect your Operation from New Tactics in Community Opposition.”

Use of Internet Seen as New Tactic

As far as I can tell from the presentation, the new tactic is the use of the Internet. Wowsers! That’s quite an insight!

In the presentation, they specifically mentioned I’m sure I anger these people as much as they anger me. I have met with them five times now. None of the meetings resulted in any change of industry practices. Or even a genuine willingness to explore them.

The Boy Scout Connection

In Austin during the last legislative session, a House committee member (evaluating a bill to establish best management practices for the industry) asked whether TACA had engaged with communities they affected. Mr. Rob Van Til (a mine owner and TACA spokesperson) looked at me waiting to testify, and said, “We’d prefer to talk to the Boy Scouts.” And just like that, the bill died in committee.

TACA sees people trying to protect their communities as the enemy. Instead of engaging with “the opposition” and trying to reform damaging mining practices, they rally support among neutral third parties.

TACA’s presentation in Las Vegas talked about:

  • How concrete supports Texas’ growth by providing essential infrastructure materials
  • Why “WeRTexas”
  • Teacher and school workshops they sponsored
  • Legislative and staff tours they promoted
  • Chamber of Commerce mixers
  • Quarry Days

They also patted themselves on the back for bicycle donations to a children’s charity in San Antonio.

Millions in Back-Door Political Contributions

TACA has also donated millions of dollars to legislators and state officials through a back-door political-action committee called TACPAC. Meanwhile, TACA has refused to acknowledge damaging practices and resisted all attempts to develop meaningful best management practices that address them.

Delivering Air Cover for Members

It’s tough for trade associations to tell members what to do. Loss of members means loss of funding for the association. For the most part, members want air cover from associations. And that’s what TACA delivers.

Communication experts on controversial issues divide the world into three camps: pro, undecided, and anti.

Conventional wisdom says you target messaging to pro and undecided groups. And that’s exactly what TACA is doing. Because you rarely swing anti’s.

For the record, I like concrete. I DON’T LIKE the irresponsible production of it. And what TACA never shows people and avoids talking about. So I will redouble my efforts. And continue advocating for responsible aggregate and concrete production.

Explain These to The Boy Scouts and Kids Clubs

Below is a tiny sampling of more than 10,000 aerial photos I have taken in the last eight months along the East and West Forks of the San Jacinto in southern Montgomery County.

Let’s turn these into murals at the State Capitol for TACA Day next year. Just so legislators get the full picture.

20 square miles of sand mines to the left up the West Fork.
One of eight breaches at Triple PG in October 2019. This one on Caney Creek.
Second of eight breaches at Triple PG in October 2019. This one on White Oak Creek.
Pumping wastewater into the West Fork
Confluence of West Fork (right) and Spring Creek on 11/4/2019.
The Day the West Fork Ran White. TCEQ traced this back to the LMI Mine upstream.
More pumping into the West Fork.
One part of a double breach at the Hallett Mine that blew out the sand bar on the opposite side of the West Fork.
Five pipelines carrying highly volatile liquids undermined at the LMI River Road mine.
Massive breach barely patched and ready to let loose again.
Equipment abandoned in floodway
LMI Moorehead mine. TCEQ traced white-water incident to here.
River Aggregate Mine on West Fork
LMI River Road Mine pouring into surrounding wetlands.
Pipe that automatically sends wastewater from mine into surrounding forest when level gets high enough.
Wastewater from LMI River Road mine leaking across neighbor’s property…
…where it enters sewer system under road and then empties into West Fork.
LMI Moorehead Mine pumping wastewater into surrounding forest where it can’t be seen by road or river. Eventually this drains back into West Fork
…which can be seen here (top) where it joins Spring Creek at 59.
Ditches or small streams go along the sides of every mine on the East and West Forks. Breaches and pumps are common along these. They make a secluded way to send water to the river.
River mining without a permit at Spring West Sand and Gravel on West Fork
That blue water is either high in chlorides or cyanobacteria.
Another wastewater leak from LMI River Road mine where it enters West Fork.

Unsolicited Advice to TACA

Dear TACA. If you want to protect your organization from community opposition, start cleaning up your act. That would be a new and truly effective tactic.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/3/2020

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The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.