Marble Falls officials testify before state lawmakers about mining regulation

Burnet County Judge James Oakley/Special to The Highlander
Marble Falls Mayor John Packer (left) and City Manager Mike Hodge spoke before the Texas House Energy Resources Committee about the infiltration of the mining industry and its economic impact, near the city and in the Burnet County area.

 

 

 

 

By Connie Swinney
Staff Writer
Burnet County officials offered insight April 8 into the pitfalls of the growing number of mining operations among fledgling residential developments, as state lawmakers in Austin considered potential bills which would further regulate and tighten oversight on the industry.

Burnet County Judge James Oakley, Marble Falls Mayor John Packer and Marble Falls City Manager Mike Hodge spoke at a hearing before the Texas House Energy Resources Committee on Monday, during the 86th Texas Legislative Session.

Two primary bills garnering attention from the Hill Country area are State HB 509, sponsored by Burnet County-based State Rep. Terry Wilson (Dist. 20) and State HB 2871 State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (Dist. 73).

Biedermann's bill would move oversight of the permitting process of rock quarries from the TCEQ to the Texas Railroad Commission.

Wilson's bill asks for the same oversight as well as a “General Operating Permit” component with stricter guidelines prior to launching work.

These guidelines are expected to address concerns which could include property values, noise, increased truck traffic, road damage and dust issues due to the mining.

Legislative change is necessary to Marble Falls because at the current time the mining operations have very little as far as permitting required,” Packer said of his reason for attending and speaking at the committee hearing. “The air quality permit is a rubber stamped. They don't even monitor it unless someone turns them in.”

Marble Falls officials have battled planned mining operations to the south of the community due to investment in infrastructure for residential development in that location.

Packer said he does not want to diminish the mining industry but would like to see more mindful placement of sites.

We understand we need those resources. We are surrounded by natural resources here in the Hill Country,” Packer said. “We feel like it's important if Marble Falls has a say to determine whether a proposed mining and crushing operation is compatible with our development and land-use plans.” . . .

Find the rest of the story in the Friday, April 12 issue of The Highlander, the newspaper of record for the Highland Lakes. To offer a comment or news tip, email connie@highlandernews.com.

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