This morning's Winona Daily News reports in Buffalo County halts sand rush:
The Buffalo County Board on Tuesday ordered a seven-month moratorium on new or expanding frac sand mining operations, and was urged to create a citizen advisory panel to study frac sand-related issues.
The board approved the moratorium unanimously. Supervisor Steve Weiss, who has said he has relatives with mining interests, abstained. Four supervisors — Fay Passow, John Bauer, Corey Lewis and Bryan Gibbs — were absent.
The moratorium will take effect March 29.
The vote reflects the fact that the concerns about silica sand mining in southern Minnesota and southwestern Minnesota don't follow the fault lines of contemporary ideological right-left divides, but mirror residents' worries about safety, heath, quality of life and the opportunity costs of mining on other forms of economic development.
Buffalo County has its own particular problems as well, the paper reports:
The moratorium approval comes amid deepening struggles with frac sand-related issues in the county. Of the two employees qualified to process county zoning permits, one has left, and the other, long-time zoning administrator Paul van Eijl, will leave April 3 to take new employment with a sand mining company.
The county’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, which now has two vacancies for alternate members, faces a complaint that it violated open meeting laws when approving at least two frac sand mines in recent months. And of the two permits the board has denied, one has been appealed in Buffalo County Circuit Court and the company representing the other has suggested it may follow suit.
In Minnesota, ten local communities--townships and counties--have put interim ordinances (moratorium) in place, temporarily halting new sand mining operations or preventing new sand transfer points.
Meanwhile at the Minnesota state capitol, ALEC member Representative Mike Beard is trying to limit the ability of local people to enact interim ordinances.