One of the points Bluestem has stressed in our posts about industrial scale sand mining in Minnesota is that the local problems caused by frac sand mining are legitimate concerns for people living near the mining and processing, regardless of whether fracking itself is totally awesome or totally horrid.
Nor do we rely on documentaries about fracking or fictional movies about fracking to make points about industrial-scale sand mining. Indeed, the latter practice is as annoying to Bluestem as those who cite The West Wing (on the left) or Atlas Shrugged (on the right) as evidence. Both are fiction.
Thus when an email with the subject line "Fracking Good for Minnesota, United States" arrived from Representative Glenn Gruenhagen we opened it, to read a column he has submitted to local papers. His op-ed piece begins:
A controversy is brewing at the State Capitol on whether to end or severely restrict mining of silica sand because of the potential environmental concerns. These concerns have been inflamed by a Hollywood propaganda film "Promised Land,” filled with misleading information.
Not really, Glenn. (Read the full text of Gruenhagen's column here).
Bluestem has never seen that movie.
We had not seen the movie when we posted our first piece about frac sand mining in Hay Creek Township back in June 2011. Nor had Goodhue County residents when they first asked for an interim ordinance that summer.
It was impossible for us--or anyone, anywhere--to do so, even had we wished.
That was months before the film was set in October 2011 and even more months before it went into production in 2012 for a limited release in the waning days of post-Christmas 2012 or the January 4, 2013 nationwide release.
Citizens in Minnesota and Wisconsin have been inflamed--not by a movie that had yet to be made and that they had no knowledge of--but by the things they have seen happening in this very real world in which they live.
They have seen the landscapes they love being bulldozed and hauled away.
They have seen white dust line their window sills and, they fear, their lungs.
They have seen silica sand mining holding ponds rupture and flow into their yards and the rivers they love.
They have watched companies start projects without the proper permits.
They have watched local public employees charged with representing their interests with mining companies quit and work for mining companies.
They have watched boom and bust in the demand for proppants for fracking, watched the sand pile up, and neighbors employed in the industry go idle.
They have worried about their property values, their health and the future.
They have attended meetings, set up websites, written letters, made phone calls, created petitions, protested, organized, committed civil disobedience, been arrested.
They have taken photographs, written articles, made videos and shot a documentary movie produced not in "Hollywood," but in a local commercial filmmaker's studio.
They have asked their townships, their cities and their counties to enact moratoria to study the effects of industrial scale silica mining and their local officials have listened.
They have petitioned the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board for a statewide GEIS. They have submitted testimony to the EQB.
They have appealed to former state senator John Sterling Howe (R-Red Wing) andto his successor Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing) to ask the Governor to support the GEIS.
All of this happened before the "Hollywood propaganda film" opened.
Are some of them concerned about fracking? To be sure. Were they seeking local zoning protection in 2011 and 2012--and legislative and state regulatory relief last fall--because of a Hollywood movie that opened nationally on January 4, 2013?
Are you stupid? Are you dishonest? Both?
Photo: An anti-sand mining sign from July, 2011, via MPR (top); Aerial view of proposed mine in Goodhue County's Hay Creek Township, ca. June 2011, photo by Jim Tittle. (bottom)
If you enjoyed reading this post, consider giving a donation via paypal: