In May, the Onion reported in Fracking Industry Now Largest Employer Of Recent PR Graduates:
A new labor market study published Wednesday has found that oil companies with hydraulic fracturing interests have outpaced the tobacco industry, Wall Street, and the gun lobby to become the largest employer of recent college graduates with public relations degrees.
"These days, media-savvy professionals who know how to publicize questionable scientific data in order to downplay the environmental dangers of forcing toxic fluids into the ground can pretty much write their own ticket," said Bart Hobijn of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, adding that this year at least 2,500 graduating seniors will be put to work obfuscating the levels of carcinogens in groundwater.
"And in the long term, the job demand will only increase. Fracking has become a high-growth sector in which there is an extraordinary amount of spinning to be done." When asked how he enjoyed his new position with a Pittsburgh-based fracking operator, recently hired PR manager Matt Coleman said he believed the practice is a "safe, clean way to increase our natural gas reserves and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil."
Recent developments in Wisconsin's frac sand mining industry appear to confirm this prediction. Since the formation of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association, media markets in the Upper Midwest have seen an explosive growth in cheerful tales about mine operators' kindness to animals and dedication to their neighbors' best interests.
On August 28, David Schuyler, web editor of the Milwaukee Business Journal, reported in Sand mining firms form Wisconsin association:
Four sand mining companies with operations in Wisconsin have formed a statewide association to promote sound environmental practices across the industry.
The Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association, based in Eau Claire, was established by Badger Mining Corp. of Berlin, Wis.; U.S. Silica of Frederick, Md.; Unimin Corp. of New Canaan, Conn.; and Fairmount Minerals of Chardon, Ohio. . . .
“As a leader and voice of the state’s sand mining industry, our goal is to promote a transparent discussion about all issues relating to sand mining in Wisconsin, including land use, environmental sustainability and economic impact,” [Rich] Budinger, [regional manager for Fairmount Minerals and association president,] said in a press release announcing the association's formation. “We want to work cooperatively with state and local governments and others to develop a better understanding of our industry."
Budinger said industrial sand mining generates thousands of family‐supporting jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in overall economic impact to the state and local communities.
The association quickly established an ambitious work plan as they seek establish themselves as totally adorable stewards of the planet. Just last week, the Red Wing Republican Eagle reported in Wisconsin sand mines home to flourishing bat habitats:
“A lot of people think bats are scary and creepy and kind of a pest, but they really are a very important part of the ecosystem,” explained Lauren Evans, sustainable development coordinator for Wisconsin Industrial Sand Co.
WISC, a subsidiary of Fairmount Minerals, operates underground sand mining operations in Maiden Rock and Bay City. The mines are home to the second and third largest bat habitats in the state.
Decades ago, bats started naturally hibernating in the tunnels left behind from mining, Evans explained. More recently, WISC connected with officials from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to manage the habitat. . . .
Evans said the mines recognize the importance of bats, and that’s why they’re careful to keep them unharmed.
“We just feel that we have this opportunity to help protect them as a species so we’re going to do it to the best of our ability,” she said.
As a supplement to WISC’s underground efforts, the company also has installed more than 15 bat boxes at its facilities in Maiden Rock, Bay City and Hager City. Two more boxes will soon be installed at Prairie View Elementary School in Hager City.
WISC welcomes interest from those wanting to tour its mining facilities and see the bat population up close, Evans said.
“We’re always open to working with schools and community groups, bringing them in, showing them what we do and teaching them about the bats.”
And environmental guys have joined hands that the frac sand industry has nothing against clean water, even though holding ponds might leak once in a while. The Republican Eagle reported in Trout Unlimited, mining company team up for river restoration:
While controversy swirls around the mining of silica sand, many of the industry’s opponents have negative views of area mining companies.
Conversely, many other people — including members of a local Trout Unlimited chapter — are recognizing positive attributes of one company in particular.
Wisconsin Industrial Sand Company, a subsidiary of Fairmount Minerals, operates underground mines in Maiden Rock and Bay City. The facilities mine silica sand, which is often used in a process known as hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) to extract oil and natural gas from underground rock. WISC also operates a processing facility in Hager City. . . .
“There are those who have questioned or even criticized us for having this relationship, but they have not taken into consideration all of the facts,” Kiap-TU-Wish chapter President Kyle Amundson said. “We don’t know what fracking will bring as far as detriments to the environment, but just because Fairmount mines sand (and supplies silica for any number of businesses) does not mean that they are a bad corporation.”
Sadly, not all members of Trout Unlimited are so cheerful about WISC's pseudo news. Earlier in September, the Republican Eagle reported in Trout Unlimited will celebrate Hay Creek cleanup Saturday that TU was hanging out with dirty hippies in Hay Creek Township:
Trout Unlimited, a nonprofit conservation group that has been working to restore nearly two miles of Hay Creek after summer floods, will hold a celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday Sept. 22.
The event will feature refreshments, opportunities for trout fishing and a presentation about silica sand mining by citizen group “Save the Bluffs.”
It will be held on the property of Dean Rebuffoni. For directions, visit www.twincitiestu.org.
Still, the upbeat flacks aren't discouraged, no matter how loud local citizens get about plans to dig up half of the green rolling hills of Wisconsin to haul off to North Dakota's grand experiment in groundwater contamination. In the Winona Daily News, Kate Prengaman of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports in Conference draws 50 frac sand mining protesters:
A newly formed industry association, the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association, hopes to assure residents that sand mining can be done safely and responsibly. But president Rich Budinger acknowledges that sand miners haven’t done enough to answer community questions.
“I wish we were doing this two years ago. I think a big part of the problem is the misinformation,” Budinger said in an interview after the protest.
Budinger said the four founding companies — Fairmount Minerals, Badger Mining Corp, U.S. Silica and Unimin — have all been producing industrial sand safely for decades. For other companies to join the association, they have to agree to a code of conduct that prioritizes environmental sustainability and safety.
“The growth of our industry has created a lot of questions in Wisconsin,” Budinger said. “We formed to promote the proper management of our industry and provide a fact-based discussion.”
Because those fact-free freaks are causing such problems:
In recent weeks, residents of Buffalo County convinced the county zoning board to reject two frac sand facility proposals from Menomonie-based Glacier Sands, one for a processing plant and loading facility 1,200 feet from the Cochrane-Fountain City School. . . .
Many in Buffalo County protested the permits because of the increased truck traffic and the potential health effects of sand dust exposure.
The mining companies promise to monitor the situation.