Examining the Full Impact of Asphalt Plant

Doug Enright 

In California, Calaveras County officials are requiring a full environmental impact report be prepared before operation begins at a proposed hot asphalt batch plant near Valley Springs at Hogan Quarry. Led by the Calaveras County Air Pollution Control District, the report will include more than the effect on air pollution, and encompass other potential impacts of the plant, such as increased traffic.

Measuring the Impact of Asphalt Plant in California and Beyond

Earlier this year, both the Calaveras County Planning Commission and the County Board of Supervisors had decided that the owners of the asphalt plant would not have to obtain a conditional use permit. Issued by the planning department, a conditional use permit would have prompted a department review of the plant’s environmental impacts. As a result of community members urging for an environmental impact report, the county’s leaders are now proceeding with a full analysis of the plant’s potential impact.

Questions about the regulation and operation of the plant has triggered more than a year of public debate, multiple decision appeals by the planning commission, and a strong push by neighbors of the proposed plant to resist the plan. Despite the opposition of the community, the board of supervisors voted in February to reject an appeal by neighbors of the plant. Rejection of the appeal allows the owners of the proposed asphalt plant to move forward without conditional permits.

Thought the plant is not required to hold conditional permits, the owners still must obtain an “authority to construct,” a document from the Calaveras County Air Pollution Control District, which evaluates the potential impacts of such asphalt plant.

In 2015, county officials indicated that the planning department considers the full scope of project impacts, while the air pollution control district is generally concerned with air pollution. At the end of March, air district officials had not yet determined whether they would conduct an initial study of environmental issues, which has people concerned about the seriousness of the “required” environmental impact report.

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