TCEQ sets new Concrete Plant rules

Lawsuit by Harris County prompts permit changes

Houston, Texas — The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has announced changes to concrete batch plant permit requirements. The updated permit comes after Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee filed the county’s lawsuit against the TCEQ and filed a Title VI complaint that triggered an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The updated permit includes key changes designed to reduce emissions and address environmental concerns raised by Harris County, including:

Setback Increases: The buffer zone at concrete batch plants in certain counties, including Harris County, has been increased by 100 feet.

• Production Limits: The maximum production allowed at concrete batch plants has been reduced by more than 1.5 million cubic yards per year and 100 cubic yards per hour.

• Dust Emission Controls: Plants now have additional allowable options to limit their dust pollution, including use of vacuum trucks.

• Stockpile Limits: Concrete batch plants are now limited in the amount of acreage they can use to stockpile materials that emit pollutants.

The County’s lawsuit also triggered the TCEQ to adopt the permit using a process with greater language access for people with limited English proficiency, as is common in many Harris County neighborhoods that are proliferated by plants.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the TCEQ’s new concrete permit. Harris County officials and community members have been outspoken about the need for a permit and processes that protect the people who live here. It’s good to see the TCEQ is finally taking initial steps in the right direction,” said Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee. “But there is more that needs to be done to combat the concrete pollution that is forced upon our most vulnerable communities. The updated permit gives plants currently operating a 10-year window to continue polluting under junk standards. Fifth Ward, Aldine, Kashmere Gardens, and neighborhoods across our county deserve better. I plan to continue pushing the TCEQ to make sure our communities are protected.”

Harris County had initially raised these environmental concerns during the TCEQ’s 2021 formal commenting process, but the agency declined to update the permit at that time. It was only through legal action and EPA involvement that these necessary changes were implemented. The county is continuing to review the permit to determine if further action is necessary.

About the Harris County Attorney’s Office: Christian D. Menefee serves as the elected, top civil lawyer for Texas’ largest county. The Harris County Attorney’s Office represents the county in all civil matters including lawsuits. Menefee leads an office of 250 attorneys and staff members. He entered office at 32 years old, making him the youngest person and first African American elected as the Harris County Attorney.