A glance at newspapers in Southeastern Minnesota this morning illustrates how issues related to frac sand mining aren't going away. Rather, the conflict created by the industrial scale sand mining industry continues to generate headlines and letters in the region.
The Winona Daily News, the Rochester Post Bulletin and the Red Wing Republican Eagle all serve up frac sand-related headlines.
In the Winona Daily News story, On track for change: Area activists take train to D.C. rally on frac sand, other issues readers discover:
Minnesota residents are taking concerns about frac sand mining and other energy and climate issues to Washington, D.C., this weekend for a rally activists say could be the country’s largest on the topics.
Eric Nelson of Winona boarded an Amtrak train bound for Washington late Friday morning, joining others from Minnesota communities. Nelson said he spontaneously decided to take the trip after Winona resident Jim Gurley opted out due to illness.
“The issue of climate change is huge,” Nelson said. He said frac sand mining is just one of the issues that will be discussed at the rally, with others including offshore drilling, the hydraulic fracturing industry, global warming and more.
State Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, who chairs the Transportation Finance committee and serves on energy policy committees, hopped off the train briefly to greet 10 or so activists in Winona.
“Our message is that climate change is an urgent issue, and we need to take action at the state and federal levels,” Hornstein said. “Thank you, Winona, for standing up against frac sand mining,” he added. . . .
Read the article in the Winona Daily News. An state senate committee will hear testimony about frac sand mining on February 19. For more information about the hearings from Land Stewardship Project click here.
In the Rochester Post Bulletin, Brett Boese reports in Silica sand concerns remain prominent in SE Minnesota:
After Monday's fiery city council meeting that saw one critic of Red Wing Mayor Dennis Egan escorted out by police officers, things have proceeded at a more deliberate pace in determining how to address concerns surrounding Egan's possible conflict of interest.
Jay Squires, Red Wing's legal counsel, has identified an investigative firm that could examine Egan's dealings with the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council. Egan, a professional lobbyist, agreed to become the organization's executive director in January, roughly three months after signing a new ordinance that essentially bans silica sand mining within the city.
City Hall was packed Monday with citizens worried about a conflict of interest, and three council members asked Egan to consider either stepping down as mayor or to resigning his post with the mining organization that represents six companies with interests in silica sand operations. Egan refused, and says he doesn't have any conflicts. . . .
Read the rest at the Post Bulletin. The article concludes:
Red Wing officials also voted unanimously to send a resolution of support to the Minnesota Legislature asking for a moratorium of silica sand facilities and for the state to conduct a generic environmental impact statement, which could delay local projects for years.
Demand for silica sand has increased in recent years as domestic gas and oil production has jumped, with southeastern Minnesota becoming a hot spot for mining companies. Proposals have been made up and down the Mississippi River based on the size, shape and hardness of the sand, but vocal resistance has also become organized. The current hot spots include Wabasha, Winona and St. Charles.
The embedded image of the front page of today's Red Wing Republican Eagle illustrated how the issue is dominating headlines in pretty Red Wing. Not just above the fold, but top of the page.
As you can see from the pdf below of the Red Wing Republican Eagle's letter pages, the mayor's new job at Fracsandville is dominating the discussion inside the paper as well. Like the frontpage, above the fold coverage, this copy isn't online yet either.
Photo: A sand train derailed in Wisconsin this month.
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