Goliad County resident Pat Calhoun, who is running against County Judge David Bowman in the March 4 Republican primary, read the resolution to the court, which had denied passage of a similar resolution in 2013.
Uranium Energy Corp. was granted an aquifer exemption by the EPA in December 2012 to begin uranium mining in Goliad County. Houston attorney John Blackburn filed a federal appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans in January 2013 on behalf of Calhoun and other county residents.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to review Blackburn’s petition and gave the EPA 60 days to gather more public input. The EPA has scheduled a hearing to receive public input on Tuesday, Feb. 11 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Victoria Community Center located at 2905 E. North St.
Calhoun said more tests need to be done in the vicinity of the aquifer exemption to assure county residents that there would be no chance of contaminating the Evangeline Aquifer, which is the only source of drinking water in the area.
“I encourage you as commissioners to look at passing this to stand in unity and really understand what’s happening in our water supply,” Calhoun said. “Unlike oil and gas, uranium is in the water supply. Until we know what it will do to our water supply, we need to err on the side of caution.”
Bowman, who along with Precinct 1 Commissioner Julian Flores voted against the resolution, said the resolution would have no clout.
“We’ve done this in the past. It’s redundant,” Bowman said. “The state courts and federal courts, in my opinion, could care less about what we think in Goliad County.”
“Are you not supportive of saving our drinking water?” Precinct 4 Commissioner Ted Long asked Bowman after making the motion to approve passage of the resolution.
“I’ve told representatives from UEC that if ever show evidence that our drinking water is messed up, then they’ll hear from me,” Bowman said.
“But then it’s too late,” Long said. “Once that happens, it’s too late.”
Calhoun, who is president of the Goliad County Farm Bureau, tried to address the court after Long’s motion, but was cut off by Bowman.
“Mr. Calhoun has had his chance to address the court,” Bowman said. “Further discussion now is amongst the court. That’s it.”
Precinct 3 Commissioner Ronald Bailey seconded the motion. Precinct 2 Commissioner Alonzo Morales was the third to vote for approval of the resolution.
After the resolution was passed, the court discussed whether or not to convene at the Feb. 11 public hearing.
“The commissioners court is not able to convene unless we have a specific action that we are taking,” Bowman said. “Each of us can go as individuals and address the EPA, but it would unnecessary for us to ‘quote’ convene.”
“I feel it would be good for the commissioners court to convene there and let the EPA know we are in support of this resolution.”
The court took no action on the item.
Also Monday, the court unanimously approved designating 35.47 acres of land from Seiler Road to the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 884 to Diebel Road as a County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone.
Goliad County is eligible for $440,518 from $225 million the legislature is appropriating for county’s affected by the energy boom. The county had to designate a location and will have to file an application by Feb. 14.
The court also heard from Goliad County Emergency Management Coordinator Peggy Fonseca on an audit performed by the State Administrative Agency on Homeland Security Grants/Equipment.
Fonseca to total audit was $101,000. The SAA recommended the county revise its purchasing policy to be in compliance with Local Government Code 262 and create a federal debarment policy for vendors.
The court unanimously approved the annual overnight stay for Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Riders on the Memorial Auditorium grounds and unanimously authorized the auditor’s office to advertise for bids on stabilizing cement.