Monday, February 07, 2005

Rep. Bonnen & the rock quarries flap

There are no rock quarries in Brazoria County, where the land is flat and pretty much swampy in a lot of places, so it was intriguing a few weeks ago when State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, was reported to be the middle of a rock quarry controversy.

Bonnen and four other members of a nine-member Advisory
Committee on Rock Crushers and Quarries have refused to approve a committee report that was to help the Legislature solve an ongoing pollution problem.

Quarries and rock crushers are a big problem in the Hill Country, where thousands of acres are being excavated so the upwardly mobile can have granite counter tops in their kitchens and limestone floors in their necessary rooms.

Quarry operations across Texas have been notorious for lax oversight, according to the Austin American-Statesman, which reports that
last May and June inspectors from the Texas Commission on
Environmental Quality visited hundreds of quarry sites. Of the 272
sites that needed permits, more than half either had none or were
violating the minimal conditions of their permits, the newspaper said.

That's an outlandish result for operations as invasive as quarries and
rock crushing. Most quarry sites today require only an air pollution
permit if they have rock-crushing equipment or a water pollution
permit if they discharge runoff into streams or rivers.

One proposed solution would mandate that quarry and
rock-crushing businesses have a permit from the state environmental
commission. The operations would have to demonstrate environmental
suitability, a transportation plan for surrounding roads, a blasting
plan for use of explosives, regulation of air pollution and a
reclamation plan for restoring the site when the operations cease.

But Bonnen and his four allies think the proposed solution is a violation of private property rights by "unnecessarily inserting the state into the private agreement between the landowner and the quarry operator about how the land will be reclaimed," reports the Associated Press.

Among the special interest groups who don't like the proposed solution is the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association.

This gave us an idea. When we were researching campaign contributions made to Rep. Bonnen regarding a shocking allegation that he was "pandering" (see yesterday's post), we came across three hefty contributions totaling $5,000 from, yep, the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association.

So that's why a state rep from the coastal flatlands of Brazoria County has such an intense interest in rock quarries, we guess. We could be wrong, but that's our best guess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


W.T. Craig