A group of protesters stand at the entryway of a planned rock crushing facility at the intersection of U.S. 281 and CR 403 intersection this past weekend. They expressed their concerns about a pending Texas Commission on Environmental Quality air-quality permit for Asphalt Inc., which would operate the rock crusher. Photo courtesy of Highland Lakes Clean Air organization
AUSTIN As the potential approval of air quality permits for two planned rock crushing operations looms, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is offering insight into the public meeting process prior to decisions on the permits.
A barrage of public comments has besieged the state regulatory body since opponents have rallied against permits sought by Asphalt Inc. and Collier Materials Inc. in Burnet County. Opponents cite concerns regarding air and water quality and increased traffic.
Collier Materials asked for a permit to operate a rock crusher in the 4600 block of FM 1980 (Tobyville Road) west of Marble Falls and has progressed further along in the process toward a TCEQ decision.
The terms of the Air Quality Standard Permit for Permanent Rock and Concrete Crushers do not provide for a formal public meeting; the TCEQ will be holding an informational meeting.The TCEQ decided to hold an informational meeting due to significant interest from the public and elected officials for this application.
The purpose of an informational meeting is to give the public an opportunity to ask questions regarding the application. TCEQ staff members will be present to provide information on the application; the applicant is also invited to attend the informational meeting.
The TCEQ is working with the applicant and elected officials to schedule the meeting.All persons who submitted a comment or have requested to be on the mailing list for this particular application will receive notice of the meeting.
An informational meeting enables the public to learn about the application and ask questions of the TCEQ. The public may also ask questions of the applicant if the applicant attends the informational meeting. A contested case hearing is a legal proceeding, similar to a civil trial, which is conducted by the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
I had to alternate colors as I highlighted receptor rings then find the maximum value for each ring and write the values on the single sheet of paper. This was one result set of 54 scenarios. That was the technology in use at that time.
Over time, I designed, developed, and implemented streamlined processes, new tools, and comprehensive hands-on training programs for the dispersion modeling staff. Most of these changes are still in place today. Production from the modeling team increased many times over while the number of staff declined.
I have reviewed hundreds of Air Quality Analyses (AQAs) in support of federal (PSD) and state air quality permits. Every representation was checked for consistency, accuracy, and compliance with all federal and state requirements. When there were issues with inconsistent or inaccurate information, I made judgements on whether the errors made were significant enough to invalidate the analysis results.
I have literally written the guidance for dispersion modeling in the state of Texas. Also, I have presented at the TCEQ Advanced Air Permitting Seminar and Environmental Trade Fair, numerous times to provide guidance on dispersion modeling issues and techniques. I counselled Texas refineries on how to comply federal and state air quality standards with regard to permitting MSS activities.
The dispersion modeling projects I performed at the TCEQ were typically much more complex, larger in scope, and more heavily scrutinized than the typical AQA in support of a permit. The projects were for protectiveness analyses for state rule packages, e.g.
The Human Health Risk Assessment Protocol (HHRAP) modeling project, which involved modeling 78 hazardous waste incinerators in the state of Texas, was the most complex set of the projects. The HHRAP modeling required not only predicted pollutant (vapor and particulate) concentrations, but also particulate wet and dry deposition fluxes to area watershed basins and vapor dry deposition fluxes to area vegetation.
All of these projects required the review of the EPA and the public. Some of the projects went through the administrative contested case hear process. In all cases, the analyses were accepted and approved.
Given the complexity, scope, and scrutiny of these projects, the resources available to perform these projects were very limited. To complete all of these projects within required timelines and with the highest quality, I designed, developed, and implemented new processes, databases, and data driven tools to automate much of the work. In the case of the HHRAP project, the dispersion modeling was completed years ahead of schedule.
There is no one else that has a comparable breadth and depth of experience in performing dispersion modeling. I bring not only the expertise in performing the dispersion modeling consistent with current guidance, but have the technology available to automate many of the manual tasks involved in preparing model input and analyzing model output eliminating errors and providing a quality product in less time.
While at the TCEQ, I represented the state in many contested case hearings. The projects varied from air quality permits at small sites with local interests such as sand pits (Danco Sand Kaufman County) and rock crushers (KDBJ Hays County) to the very large sites with national interest such as:
I attribute my success as an expert witness to being thoroughly prepared and supported by well trained and prepared staff. To ready myself, I review all the relevant statutes, rules, policies, and guidance and become familiar with their history, background, and intent. I also read through pages and pages of transcripts of testimony from previous contested case hearings to have an idea of the types of questions to expect. When it comes to expert witness testimony, there are no redos. You must provide an answer on the spot.
The Air Permits Division (APD) at TCEQ was one of the last divisions to start using GIS software. After one day of using the software, I could see the potential for eliminating many manual processes and allowing the capability to review items that were too difficult to check. I worked with staff to determine how to apply the software to our modeling report reviews. In less than a year, the modeling team was the first in the agency to integrate GIS software into its day to day operations. In the next few years, as we gained more capabilities, many of our review processes were automated, increasing team production. In a few short years, APD had become the agency leader in GIS innovation and implementation.
During those years, I designed, developed, and implemented workflows, new processes, databases, and data driven tools to expedite review of dispersion modeling projects in support of air permits. The key pieces of the automated review process were an application to read model input and output files to populate a database and another application to create spatial features in a GIS format based on information in the database. While modeling files were being processed by PCs, modeling staff could complete other tasks that required attention. Once the files were transformed to data and GIS features, modeling staff could complete review of the model input and output in hours in what used to take days and weeks.
Since founding Opiela Consulting Services, I have developed more database and GIS capabilities to automate my own workflows. I can bring that same expertise to your company. Let me listen to you describe some of your processes and walk through with you your workflows.
West Texas Aggregate, LLC, has applied to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for an air quality standard permit, which would authorize the Midland company to construct and operate a permanent rock crusher on property within the City of Kerrvilles city limits.
The Kerrville City Council adopted a resolution on January 12, 2021 expressing its collective concerns regarding the use for the property located south of the intersection of Al Mooney Road and State Highway 27 (Memorial Boulevard). Council remains concerned about the potential nuisances stemming from this proposed use, a use that Council believes is incompatible with surrounding uses.
Earlier this week, the TCEQ provided notice of its intent to hold a public meeting via webcast on April 6, 2021 beginning at 7 p.m. regarding this application. Information concerning this meeting may be found on the citys website and at this link: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/agency/decisions/hearings/calendar.html.
The City is concerned about the proposed location of this permanent rock and concrete crusher operation (quarry) for reasons including its impact on water quality due to the adjacency of the site to the Guadalupe River and the location being incompatible to areas surrounding it such as the airport, industry and residential areas.
Council is also concerned that the TCEQs approval of this permit may result in significant negative impacts to the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens; water quality and availability; the watershed and floodplain; air quality; traffic flow; roadway safety; wildlife habitat; and property values within the City and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Council is aware that other entities and businesses have submitted written comments and concerns to TCEQ. Since the adoption of its resolution expressing opposition to this use, City Council has discussed this issue at several meetings and recently voted to authorize City staff to take appropriate action to protect its interests, including the interests of neighboring property owners and the airport, with respect to mitigating the impact of the West Texas Aggregate operation.
Toward that end, the City has hired an attorney to review West Texas Aggregates application with the TCEQ. The attorney and a consulting engineer will provide their opinion as to the legality and technical sufficiency of the application, and may then submit this form to the TCEQ as part of its review of this application.Get in Touch with Mechanic