Call for moratorium on frac sand mining
To the Editor:
On Jan. 12 I attended a conference on frac sand mining sponsored by the Wisconsin Towns Association and the Wisconsin Farmers Union. I came away alarmed at the speed with which frac sand mining is proliferating throughout western Wisconsin.
The rush is on to develop potential frac sand mines before townships and counties have a chance to study and implement regulations that address the potential impacts of large scale nonmetallic strip mines. As companies are developing plans and submitting applications for permits, many communities are now scrambling to assess the potential impacts of frac sand strip mines of 1,000 to 2,000 acres in size.
Mines that are approved and permitted now will be loosely regulated and “grandfathered in” to nonmetallic mining standards designed for relatively small sand/gravel operations
The Wisconsin Township Association recommended working with specialists in the areas public land use laws, mining, construction, and road engineering to develop zoning ordinances and regulations that will protect the public interest. They also recommended that all communities (townships or counties) in Wisconsin impose a moratorium that will allow time to study and address the health, safety and economic impacts of large scale nonmetallic strip mines.
Communities in Southeast Minnesota need to do the same. Our zoning ordinances do not address the potential impacts of large scale frac sand mining. Some of the concerns mentioned at the Wisconsin Township Assoc. meeting include: silicosis (a disease caused by sand particulate in the air), water pollution from the use of toxic flocculants, water quantity, permanent loss of agricultural land, inadequate reclamation plans, road and highway degradation, noise and light pollution, size of mines and number of mines per square mile.
Communities in SE Minnesota that have not called for a moratorium must do so immediately! We need to be knowledgeable of and prepared for the impacts of large scale frac sand mining on this side of the river before the land speculation and development rush begins in earnest.
Note: All of the conference materials can be found on the Wisconsin Towns website at: http://wisctowns.com/