Back in late June, Bluestem looked at the controversy brewing over silica sand mining in rural Goodhue County in Connecting the dots on fracking sand: from Hay Creek Township's citizens to the New York Times.
To illustrate the issue, the post contrasted an aerial photograph of the Hay Creek Township site in Goodhue County with two satellite photos of Uniminn pits in LeSueur County. The Hay Creek Township photo was pulled from the Citizens Against Silica Sand Mining's Facebook page.
Today's Rochester Post Bulletin profiles the person behind the photos and Youtubes that CASSM posts on its wall in Veteran videographer puts a face on silica sand 'problem'. From Brent Boese's article:
Jim Tittle's work has been featured prominently on the History Channel, the Home Shopping Network and on the campaign trail of "a comedian turned politician," but the freelance videographer's most recent efforts have been done on a smaller, more personal scale.
As a member of the "Citizens Against Silica Mining" group in Goodhue County, he's spent the last three months helping disseminate information the best way he knows how — through video. . . .
Behind the paper's firewall, Boese details the work Tittle is doing:
"We know the mining companies will do whatever it takes to get what they want in Goodhue County and all of southeast Minnesota," John Tittle said. "It's a big issue."
Boese notes that dust from silica mining is linked to a respiratory ailment, silicosis, as well as cancer. Residents also question increased truck traffic and dust between the Red Wing area and a proposed barge transfer point at near Lake City. The project also would impact the landscape and water supply and quality.
Jim Tittle notes his own concerns that motivate his video productions:
"We're in the middle of what looks to me is a big gold rush," he said. "There's a lot of profit to be made in this. Because of that, you're going to find corporations grabbing to get as much as they can as fast as they can. And there's a lot of propaganda coming from that side. Again, I've worked in the media, and I've seen how that works.
According to Sand mine opposition brings moratorium idea to Red Wing City Council, the Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission was to meet on Monday to discuss the idea, but t the public comment period was closed after testimony was heard in June and the issue was tabled. Citizens were not be invited to speak on the issue at Monday's meeting.
It's clear that Tittle, his family and friends in Goodhue County have their work cut out for them. The Red Wing paper reports that Planning Commission advises against sand mine moratorium, but the Post Bulletin provides the most extensive coverage of the meeting.
In Panel advises against mining moratorium, the PB's Boese reported yesterday:
After a lengthy debate before a standing-room-only crowd for the second consecutive meeting, Goodhue County's Planning Advisory Commission decided to recommend denial of a request for a one-year moratorium on silica sand mining.
One commission member decidedly has his head in the sand:
"We have a good ordinance," said planning commissioner Howard Stenerson, who pushed hard for denial at both meetings and made the motion to do so. "I'm really not interested in what might happen in the future. It's not whether we like or don't like a proposal (from Windsor Permian) coming down the road. It's whether we can handle it. I think we can."
Boese reports that a representative from Windsor Permian was supposed to attend the meeting, although he or she didn't step forward to introduce him or herself at the meeting. A county employee told Boese that the Windsor Permian representative would be meeting with staff today
The citizens were dismayed but aren't discouraged, Boese reports:
"I think we quickly turn our focus to the county commissioners," said Keith Fossum, who proposed the moratorium along with Barb Tittle. "And I think we're going to get a different result because they are much more attuned to the community."
One county commissioner, Ron Allen is already on their side, according to Boese.
This is shaping up to be a classic David v. Goliath battle between citizens asserting local control and defending their property against a corporation. And while Jim Tittle is giving a face to the citizens through his videos, it's telling that Windsor Permian didn't show its face at the public meeting on Monday night.
Photo: Aerial view of the site.
Note: This is a rewrite of the original post. Bluestem was contacted by the Post Bulletin which was concerned about fair use of the articles; Bluestem now paraphrases copy that had been directly quoted.