Local governments in Southeastern Minnesota continue to wrestle with concerns posed by the frac sand mining bubble. Winona Daily News staff writer Mary Juhl reports in Winona commission calls for state environmental review on frac sand:
The city of Winona’s Planning Commission has voiced support for an environmental impact statement that would analyze effects of the frac sand industry in southeast Minnesota.
The commission voted 4-3 with one abstention Monday to ask the Winona City Council to request such a study from the state.
Assistant city planner Carlos Espinosa said a Generic Environmental Impact Statement would provide a more comprehensive approach than the standard environmental review process. . .
Winona County is also discussing whether to support a GEIS, but hasn’t taken formal action. Jason Gilman, the county’s planning and environmental services director, plans to travel with Espinosa today to St. Paul for a public hearing on frac sand led by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, which oversees state environmental reviews.
It’s not clear how much support there is for an environmental review at the state level, which state Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, recently began calling for. The planning commission will begin examining local traffic impacts of the frac sand industry at its next meeting on Aug. 27.
In neighboring Goodhue County, Post-Bulletin staff writer Brent Boese reports that Red Wing to 'weigh in' on Goodhue County's silica debate:
In what was meant to be a silica sand informational update, Red Wing's city council ended up taking action anyway.
The city council unanimously voted to send planning director Brian Peterson to Goodhue County's public hearing on Thursday afternoon. The county board is expected to extend its silica sand moratorium for up to another year. More than 200 people are expected to attend the meeting in what could be a lengthy process.
The meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on the third floor of the government center in Red Wing.
Peterson has been instructed to request that the county revise its moratorium so that none of the 38 active "regular" mines in Goodhue County can be converted to silica sand mines, similar to how Houston County amended its language in July to prevent circumvention of the moratorium's intent. . . .
Boese notes the status of local government action on frac sand minig:
Red Wing and Goodhue County are two of many governments in southeastern Minnesota that have adopted moratoriums on silica sand. Other counties include Houston, Fillmore and Wabasha. Winona County's moratorium expired in May.
Red Wing's silica-related moratorium is set to expire on Oct. 28. Per state law, it cannot be extended. The city's planning commission and sustainability commission have created an extensive draft report with seven recommendations that would "severely limit" silica activity within the city, though the commissions also advise against banning the industry.
Read the whole thing at the PB--and continue to follow Boese's reporting in the Post Bulletin.
Over in Wisconsin, a frac sand mining group worth watching is the Save Our Knapp Hills Alliance. Check out it Facebook page.
Photo: Aerial view of Wisconsin frac sand mine.