Black Mountain Cement applied for a permit in 2021 to build a 660-acre cement plant and limestone quarry on this site in Dorchester, about 60 miles north of Dallas. TCEQ is holding a public meeting on March 25 at 7 p.m. in Denison. Photo by Dorchester Mayor David Smith.

March 22, 2024

Residents in Grayson County are pushing back against a proposed cement plant and limestone quarry moving into their community, saying it will harm their health and quality of life.

A company called Black Mountain Cement, which shares an address with the High Roller Group based in Center, Texas, wants to build the 660-acre facility, behind the First Baptist Church off State Highway 289 in Dorchester, about 60 miles north of Dallas.

The farming community, with a population of around 100, learned of BMC’s plan in 2021.

The coalition fighting the plant say the operation will increase pollution, decrease property values, damage vegetation and destroy habitats for livestock and wildlife. They say it won’t just effect Dorchester, but will impact the surrounding area for 30 miles. 

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will listen to residents’ concerns at a public meeting to be held Monday, March 25, at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 5015 S. US 75, in Denison.

David Smith, mayor of Dorchester, has joined forces with the mayors of nearby Sherman and Denison to lobby against the proposed plant. For two and half years, the coalition has scrambled to build its case against the project, with the help of attorneys hired by Grayson County shortly after they learned of BMC’s plan.

“Everybody in the county is against this,” said Smith.

The 55-year-old mayor, who has held office since 2007, aims to preserve the quiet peacefulness of his hometown, where he says you can hear the frogs sing at night and see the stars. 

“I know that growth is coming,” he said. “But you’d rather it not be something like this.”


A sign in Midlothian touts the city's leading industry in this 2020 archive photo. Photo by Jim Domke.

Cement plants are notorious foes of clean air advocates in DFW. For decades, these groups have battled the cement kilns in Midlothian, located 25 miles south of Dallas. Today, Midlothian, which has promoted itself as the “Cement Capital of Texas,” is home to three major cement plants, Ash Grove, Holcim and Martin Marietta.

Local environmenal watchdogs Downwinders at Risk and the Dallas Sierra Club have long argued that the plants play a significant role in DFW’s nonattainment of EPA standards.

According to D Magazine, a Texas Environmental Resource Consortium study found pollution that came from Ellis County, where Midlothian is located, has a significant effect on the air quality in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties.

Likewise, the Texas Observer reported that a 2012 study from the University of Texas at Arlington showed most children diagnosed with asthma in neighboring Tarrant County lived directly downwind of Midlothian’s cement kilns.

According to the EPA, the cement sector is the third largest industrial source of pollution, emitting more than 500,000 tons per year of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. 

The production of cement, which is a fundamental ingredient of concrete, has often been referred to as a dirty operation. Cement is a powder of alumina, silica, lime, iron oxide, and magnesium oxide. The mixture is burned together in a kiln at 2000-plus degrees — fueled by coal, oil, natural gas or industrial waste — and then finely pulverized.

Black Mountain’s permit application reveals the operation to be a major source of pollutants, including carbon monoxide, nitric oxide and sulfur dioxide.

Cement industry smokestacks loom over Midlothian. Photo by Jim Domke.


While air pollution is a major concern for Grayson County residents, Smith fears the plant will also endanger the local water supply as well. He said the proposed site is located on a rise, near the headwaters of the East Fork of the Trinity River.

Dorchester is wetter than DFW with an annual rainfall of 42 inches. And excess rain flows downhill to streams and rivers.

“There’s been times when we’ve got six inches of rain in a few days,” he said. “[Cement plants] don’t make settlement ponds to hold that much water. It’s going to go to the Choctaw watershed that goes to the Red River or it’s going to go to the Trinity and to Lake Lavon.”

Teresa Patterson, a spokesperson for the Dallas-based Trinity Coalition, said she only recently learned of the proposed plant.

“We are quite concerned as it will definitely impact the waters of the Trinity,” said Patterson. “Cement kilns are apparently much worse polluters than even cement batch plants.” 

A panorama of the site where the Black Mountain Cement limestone quarry and cement kiln is proposed. Photo by Dorchester Mayor David Smith.


On its website, BMC touts that its state-of-the-art facility will create hundreds of jobs, provide millions in tax dollars and entice other businesses to the area.

But Smith speculates that the cement plant is more likely to chase businesses away. He says the operation is incompatible with planned chip-making plants being built in Sherman. 

According to Axios, Dallas-based Texas Instruments is building four new factories and GlobiTech, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based GlobalWafers Co., is building a $5 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant — all in Sherman. 

This week, Sherman Economic Development Corporation announced their opposition to BMC’s plan, citing concerns about seismic activity the plant will create and its impact on the growing tech industry in Grayson County.

Meanwhile, Smith says he’s been on a roller coaster for two years, with the cement plant appearing to be defeated at times and at other times seeming inevitable.

“There’s a lot of thought that TCEQ rubber stamps these facilities,” said Smith. “Our hope is that if [the decision-makers] had the truth of everything, it wouldn’t be passed.”

TCEQ Public Meeting on Proposed Cement Plant

About: Black Mountain Cement has applied for permits to build a 660-acre cement kiln and limestone quarry in Dorchester. TCEQ is holding a public meeting on the Black Mountain Cement’s permit applications.

When: March 25, 2024 at 7 p.m.

Where: Hilton Garden Inn, 5015 S. US 75, Denison

Regarding Permit Applications: 167047, GHGPSDTX212, PSDTX1602

Public Comment: 

Make written comments.

1. Click on the button “Comment online about pending permit applications.
2. Enter the Application number, 167047
3. Select NEXT.
4. Enter requested information and your comments.
5. Press Submit to TCEQ. Your comments have now been submitted. 

You may also call the Public Education Program at 1-800-687-4040. 




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