In Wabasha council frac sand debate set for Tuesday, Tesla Rodriquez writes the potential cumulative effect of several potential frac sand hauling and storage facilities are hitting home for the Mississippi River town:
The council will discuss whether to require an environmental review for a trucking company that wants to triple its amount of daily truck trips, a recommendation to approve two moratoriums and an appeal against a new frac sand hauling and storage facility.
The city’s planning commission recommended last week that the council require that Jim Roemer complete an environmental assessment worksheet on his request to add as many as 110 truck trips to his frac sand hauling business.
The request came about a month after Superior Sand Systems was approved to start operations at its frac sand hauling and storage facility, which includes up to 200 truck trips daily, and commissioners said the were concerned about the cumulative truck traffic.
Yes, that's a potential of 310 daily truck trips in the town of 2500. No wonder that the council is also considering recommendations fortwo moratorium from the city’s planning commission:
The Winona City Council will vote Monday on the final approval of a set of changes to how the city regulates frac sand.
The changes address hours of operation, how far operations need to be from residential districts, the moisture content of sand that’s shipped and processed in the city, and other rules.
The council had asked staff to look into several aspects of the study before the meeting, such as gathering more information on traffic impact analysis studies, air quality monitoring and covering frac sand stockpiles.
Citizens concerned about the frac sand industry plan to hold a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. outside the Winona City Hall prior to the meeting. The vigil aims to “shine the light” on city hall, according to a statement, with hopes that “city leaders will safeguard the city’s high quality of life from the potential threats and hazards of frac sand mining, transport and processing.”
An article in Sunday's Star Tribune underscores the anxiety underscoring citizen concerns in both cities. Tony Kennedy reports in Sand mine rules melt under pressure:
When the biggest frac-sand mine in Trempealeau County opened here in 2011, even the dead were shown consideration.
The county issued an operating permit that banned blasting during funeral services at a nearby cemetery. In deference to other community concerns, it also blocked the company from mining on evenings and weekends, required regular air monitoring, and mandated periodic home inspections to ensure that the industrial operation wouldn't damage property in this scenic community set against a backdrop of hills and coulees.
In less than two years, those stipulations had disappeared after a new company bought the mine and sought to have it annexed to the city of Blair, which sits inside Preston Township. City officials adopted regulations more favorable to the mine and allowed it to operate around the clock, seven days a week.
The maneuver stands as an example of the way mining companies are leveraging jobs and money to exert their will in the small communities of southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, where a sand rush has led to the permitting of more than 100 facilities in the past four years. It also shows how, in the absence of statewide oversight, local units of government are competing for sand mines at the expense of consistent standards.
These sorts of issues in Wabasha, Winona and Preston Township, not some Hollywood movie about an entirely different issue as industry hacklings like Representative Glenn Gruenhagen claims, are the sources of rising citizen demands at the Minnesota state capitol. See Stupid or dishonest? Glenn Gruenhagen blames years of frac sand controversy on new movie for more on this misguided take on the citizen unrest.
And it's not just Minnesota and Wisconsin. Today's news also reveals that Iowans are also up in arms. In Allamakee County approves hold on frac sand mining, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports in Allamakee supervisors approve frac sand mining moratorium:
No frac sand will be mined in Allamakee County for at least 18 months following action Monday by the county supervisors.
By unanimous vote, the supervisors approved a temporary moratorium to allow time for the Planning and Zoning Commission to study the potential ill effects of frac sand mining and to make corresponding amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan.
“This is not over. It’s just starting. Now the hard work begins,” said Supervisors Chairman Larry Schellhammer. . . .
Read the rest of Gazette outdoor writer Orlan Love's article online--the backstory of the Allamakee County Protectors is especially interesting. Allamakee County is the northwest corner of Iowa. On January 29, Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin covered cross-border hills protectors in Frac observers make haste to keep eyes, options open.
The anti-sand storm is spreading as citzens awaken to what's happening to their neighbors in that corner of the world, whether Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa.
Photo: A sign opposing a proposed frac sand mine is seen on a mailbox along Black Hawk Rd. on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, southwest of New Albin, Iowa. The road leads to land owned by David Mitchell. (Jim Slosiarek,/The Gazette-KCRG)
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