For the moment, however, local control is the tool of choice for citizens concerned about industrial-scale frac-sand mining--and Land Stewardship Project is offering two workshops in Southeastern Minnesota to educate area residents about the process.
Frac sand mining debate continues
The Winona Daily News reports in County board debates state review of frac sand industry:
The Winona County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday discussed the possibility of a wide-ranging environmental review of the state’s growing frac sand industry.
Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, recently asked the state to conduct an environmental impact statement, a process that could potentially last months or years while halting any new operations in the region. County officials expressed concerns Tuesday about the proposal, which the state has not yet considered.. . .
Read the entire article at the WDN. In the letters section, Jack Krage writes that the state should Legislate a state-wide frac moratorium. Krage, a realtor who is the DFL-endorsed candidate in Senate District 28, writes:
Last week, state Sen. John Howe publicly asked Gov. Mark Dayton to push for legislation requiring an environmental impact statement for the process called frac mining. I agree that this is a good and sound suggestion, however, it falls too short of the mark. That legislation should also include a moratorium on all permits until that research has been completed.
This issue has become an extremely contentious one. Many communities I have visited are split down the middle over the fracking topic. Action on the state level would ease tension locally and also bring about a uniform means of dealing with this industry. Once the research has been completed, any potential environmental risks can be addressed. Permits can then be issued to companies that provide proof that they have a plan in place to deal with whatever concerns that may arise.
If no major concerns arise, all can rest assured that due diligence was taken. If the research shows environmental or health risks exist, then proper measures will need to be put in place. Until we actually have this information, we will continue to deal with a constant wrangling over this industry.
It's interesting to watch both Republicans and DFLers in Southeastern Minnesota call for the state of Minnesota to put the brakes on frac sand mining while citizen concerns about it are addressed. The question seems to be just how hard we ought to tap them.
Land Stewardship local zoning and frac sand mining workshops
Meanwhile, the Land Stewardship Project is circulating the following invitation to two workshops laters this month. Highly recommended:
You are invited to the Land Stewardship Project workshop:
Using Township Zoning Powers to Control Frac Sand Mining & Harmful Developments
There are two opportunities to attend:
Thursday, Aug. 23, in Frontenac at the Sportsman's Club & Community Center
Thursday, Aug. 30, in Rushford at St. Joseph Catholic Church
Both are from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Registration at 5 p.m.; meeting starts promptly at 5:30 p.m.)
RSVP required as space is limited. RSVP online HERE. Or you can contact Bobby King at 612-722-6377 or email@example.com. Leave your name, address, phone number and e-mail when you RSVP.
The cost is $10 payable at the door. Directions are at the end of the e-mail or click here.
Townships have the right to restrict or ban silica sand mining. The workshop was created in response to calls from township residents for more information on how the threat posed by frac sand mining can be dealt with at the township level. The state of Minnesota has not taken any meaningful action on this issue, despite the evidence in Wisconsin of the harm posed by this type of mining. At the county level it is not clear protections will be put in place to adequately protect communities from frac sand mining. Many are realizing that it may be up to the township to make sure the community is protected from the outside corporate interests proposing these large-scale silica sand mines. This is your opportunity to learn how to do that from some of Minnesota’s leading experts on township rights.
Presenters at the workshops have decades of experience on this issue:
Nancy Barsness has been the clerk and zoning administrator in Pope County's New Prairie Township for over 30 years and is one of the state’s leading experts on township rights. As a consultant for townships, she has helped write ordinances for over 30 townships.
Jim Peters is an attorney who has worked with and represented townships across the state. He has helped townships adopt moratoriums and land use ordinances in response to unwanted development and successfully defended township ordinances in court.
David Williams is a township officer from Fillmore County's Preble Township, and an attorney with expertise in township zoning. David has developed a common-sense framework for how townships can approach the issue of using zoning to control silica sand mines.
Kristen Eide-Tollefson is on the township planning commission of Goodhue County's Frontenac Township. She has a degree in public engagement and environmental planning from the Humphrey Institute and worked with her township to produce a community-based comprehensive plan in 2003 that mapped "sensitive features" and used zoning to protect natural resources.
Topics to be covered:
How to adopt a moratorium and what it means for your township.
Steps for successfully implementing township zoning.
Common myths and misinformation about township zoning.
Zoning ordinances to address silica sand mining and explanation of townships’ strong authority to use zoning powers to restrict or ban silica sand mines.
Zoning as a tool to protect township natural resources and rural character.
What happens if the township is sued?
As a township resident, what is the most effective way to approach the township board about adopting a moratorium and updating or creating township ordinances?
Who should attend?
Township officers who want to learn the basics about adopting a moratorium, implementing planning and zoning, and strategies about ordinances to restrict or ban silica sand mining.
Township residents who want to organize for action at the township level and be effective at using township zoning to limit or ban silica sand mining.
Sportsman's Club and Community Hall (3031 Territorial Rd.) in Frontenac: Take Hwy 61 into Frontenac. Turn south on Cty. Rd. 2 and cross the railroad tracks. Take the second left onto Territorial Rd. The drive for the Center is the first right.
St. Joseph Catholic Church (103 N Mill St.) in Rushford: Take Hwy 43 into Rushford. The church is directly across the street from the Rushford Peterson High School.
Photo: Aerial view of frac sand mine in Wisconsin. Photo by Jim Tittle.