Dan Huberty from the Lake Houston Area introduced HB4478 which addresses abandonment of sand mines. Many miners simply walk away from mines leaving abandoned, rusting equipment in place and dangerous conditions. Huberty’s bill would require mines to file a reclamation plan before they start mining and also post a bond ensuring they actually execute the plan. Currently, mines are required to file a plan, but there is no requirement in Texas to execute it. Miners can simply walk away from mines after they extract the last ounce of sand. That can leave scars on the landscape, degrade water quality, and threaten public safety.
HB767: Best Practices
Huberty also introduced HB767, a bill that would require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to establish and publish best management practices for sand mining. However, it does not require sand mines to follow the practices. While that’s disappointing, it could bring heat to operations that don’t follow the guidelines. This bill has already been referred to the Environmental Regulation Committee where it died in the 2019 session.
HB4341: Changes Responsibility for Oversight
Representative Kyle Biederman from Fredericksburg introduced HB4341, a bill that would transfer regulation of aggregate production operations from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to the Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC). The bill gives the Railroad Commission the right to conduct unannounced inspections to ensure compliance with water and air quality regulations. Biederman’s bill also mandates reclamation of mines, but includes more specifics than Huberty’s. Finally, it provides criminal penalties for people who knowingly and willfully violate conditions of their permits. The big news: transfer of oversight responsibility from the TCEQ to TRRC. If it passes, it will be a resounding vote of “no confidence” in the job that the TCEQ has been doing in regulating sand mines.
HB2422: Limiting Location of Mines
Representative Erin Zwiener from Kyle introduced HB2422. Her bill applies to counties with a population of 500,000 or more. It would allow county commissioners to prohibit the construction or expansion of an aggregate production operation at a location less than one mile from a residence, school, place of worship, hospital, or land platted for residential development. The bill would also allow commissioners to establish conditions for the construction or expansion of mines elsewhere in the county.
HB291: Reclamation and Performance Bonds
Representative Andrew Murr from Kerrville introduced HB291. It also focuses on reclamation of mines. It would require the grading of banks, revegetation, and removal of equipment upon completion of mining. The bill would also require operators to reclaim mines in stages as extraction activities on different parts cease. It would give miners a deadline for reclamation, too: six months. Finally, it would require a performance bond equal to $2,500 for each acre affected by extraction activities. Upon completion of reclamation activities, the TCEQ would release the performance bond. Cities and counties would have the right to waive the reclamation requirement if reclamation conflicts with proposed future uses of the land.
HB1544: APO Taxation
Representative Ryan Guillen from Rio Grande City introduced HB1544. It addresses the tax classification of land used for sand mining. The language is confusing and an analysis of the bill has not yet been submitted. However, it appears to state that sand mine, once it meets requirements for reclamation, may revert to a property tax rate associated with open space, such as agriculture. The bill lays out some unique requirements for reclamation not discussed in the other bills here. While this seems to give sand miners a positive incentive to restore land, I’m not sure how much. In Montgomery County, the tax appraiser routinely grants ag exemptions to land used for sand mining.
State Senator Charles Schwertner from Bryan introduced SB1209. It is an identical companion bill to HB1912. Companion bills increase the chance of passage by broadening the base of support in both houses.
Yesterday, I posted about how major storms transport the vast majority of the sediment that flushes down rivers. That’s a major reason to have wide buffers between mines and rivers, and to get the mines out of the floodway. One major event, as we have seen, can alter a river and people’s lives forever. However, […]
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Harvey-SanJac_41.jpg?fit=2000%2C1333&ssl=113332000adminadmin2018-12-17 19:38:252018-12-17 19:38:33How Sand Mines Increased Erosion Potential by 33X During Harvey
Today, I read a scientific article that talked about 99% solutions to 1% problems. It hit me between the eyes with the force of a freight train. It was written 30 years before Hurricane Harvey for a 1987 symposium sponsored by the U.S. Navy called Sedimentation Control to Reduce Maintenance Dredging of Navigational Facilities in Estuaries. […]
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/KWDriveAndForestGarden1.jpeg?fit=1200%2C1597&ssl=115971200adminadmin2018-12-16 21:49:302018-12-17 10:20:3399% Solutions to a 1% Problem Are No Solutions at All
It’s hard for me to write this because I hate government regulation. But when an industry acts so irresponsibly in the pursuit of profit that it endangers my safety, my family, my property, and my community, I will fight to regulate it. I am at that point now with the Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association, […]
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Subject-Mine-During-Harvey.jpg?fit=1103%2C886&ssl=18861103adminadmin2018-12-14 00:58:462018-12-15 00:48:42How to Protect Yourself from Flooding Due to Sand Mining
As we approach the next legislative session, we have a rare chance to pass meaningful legislation that could reduce sedimentation from sand mining. Such legislation has been defeated repeatedly in the past by lobbying efforts of the Texas Aggregate and Concrete Association (TACA). TACA has spent millions to lobby against regulations that protect downstream citizens […]
https://i0.wp.com/reduceflooding.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/SandMinesToday.png?fit=867%2C685&ssl=1685867adminadmin2018-12-12 21:23:062018-12-15 00:49:24ReduceFlooding.com's Recommendations for the 2019 Legislative Session