Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, announced Tuesday the appointment of a special committee to examine the toll rock mining is having on public health and the environment, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
That newspaper and the TV station KVUE recently released a series of stories that examined how Texas ranch land, particularly in the Hill Country, is quickly being converted into quarries and how that growth is outpacing regulatory oversight.
The Statesman said that some communities have filed lawsuits to try to stunt that growth. Residents argue the industry is a nuisance and health threat. Industry leaders deny those allegations.
“My desire is that this committee will work to find common ground between industry and community and find paths that will increase public safety without endangering economic growth and prosperity,” state Rep. Terry Wilson, R-Burnet County, told the Statesman. Wilson heads the House Interim Study Committee on Aggregate Production Operations.
The committee will include seven Republican and Democratic state representatives and two rock mining industry leaders – Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association director David Perkins and Capitol Aggregates president Greg Hale.
The group will examine the enforcement of regulations in place for rock-crushing facilities, concrete batch plants and hot-mix asphalt plants, the newspaper reported. The committee will also study nuisance issues caused by dust, noise and lights, air quality, blasting enforcement, impact on roads, required minimum distances between mining operations and property lines and whether Texas should require operators to restore land once they are done mining.