STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
AUSTIN — The battle against a mining company heats up after four Marble Falls-area plaintiffs filed a civil lawsuit in January asking for an injunction to halt a planned rock crusher and quarry operation.
The lawsuit, filed in the 201st Judicial District Court of Travis County, pits the city of Marble Falls and Marble Falls 300 (Gregg Ranch development) along with private property owners Grant Dean and Paul King against the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and its three commissioners and executive director.
The legal action is in regard to the TCEQ approving an air quality permit for Asphalt Inc. to build a rock-crushing plant southwest of the U.S. 281-Texas 71 intersection.
The lawsuit was scheduled to be served to TCEQ representatives by Jan. 12, according to the attorneys for the plaintiffs.
The crux of the suit, filed Jan. 2, involves the TCEQ issuing the air quality permit in November.
“We’re asking that the district court order that TCEQ approval of Asphalt Inc. registration be vacated,” said Renea Hicks of the Law Office of Max Renea Hicks, which is representing the plaintiffs. “We’re hopeful that the courts will recognize our claim and correct this mistake.”
Among concerns listed in the document:
• the city of Marble Falls forfeiting millions of dollars in infrastructure investment to the intersection of highways 71 and 281;
• perceived failure by TCEQ to issue the permit in the context of Burnet County’s 17 existing mining-related operations and the existing emissions output (in particular, crystalline silica);
• possible outdated process of monitoring and calculating emissions by the industry;
• alleged violations of existing state administrative codes in the permitting process;
• threats to wildlife (including a bee farm with on-site honey-making) on private property;
• and alleged failure to legally notify the public of the process and plans of Asphalt Inc. prior to issuance of the air quality permit.
The lawsuit follows several months of contentious meetings, public comments, and anti-rock crusher resolution issuances by area cities, county commissioners, developers, nearby hospital officials, and private property owners as well as local air- and water-quality advocates.
In late summer of 2017, Asphalt Inc. announced plans to build the rock-crushing facility.
For several months following the announcement, residents cited concerns about road safety due to increased truck traffic and potential threats to air and water quality due to emissions and runoff.
After receiving notice of the lawsuit, TCEQ officials will have 20-30 days to respond to the court.