While the title of the gathering is by no means original, it's definitely an occasion to ask "What the Frac?"
Here's the text:
What the Frac?
Mining in Minnesota: Economic Opportunity, Environmental Challenge or Both?
What's the big deal about frac (silica) sand mining? Some see opportunity: we have the sand, companies want to mine it and people need jobs. Others worry it's a health hazard, damages the environment and leads to costly road repairs. Join us as we hear from the experts about this hot button issue and what it may mean for southeastern Minnesota, our communities, and you. We'll also weigh in on the intriguing debate over the potential new copper mine in northern Minnesota.
Vern Baker, President: Twin Metals
Dave Christianson, Project Manager: Minnesota Department of Transportation
Jeff Broberg, Geologist: McGhie & Betts
Dennis Egan, Exec. Director: Minnesota Industrial Sand Council
But perhaps, like the "new energy revolution" that involves digging up or breaking everything, we're playing by different rules--a "new debate revolution." Let's take a look at the players.
Vern Baker, we take it, is on the panel to build the sort of empathy that Rep. Carly Melin thought the Range and Southeastern Minnesota could share over mining, as we wrote in Looking for empathy in all the wrong places: Carly Melin thinks frac sand mining totally nice.
Dave Christianson famously participated an industrial sand mining "community" forum organized by Red Wing mayor Dennis Egan after the November election. As Rob Meyer wrote in his letter to the editor, Our voices silenced at frac forum:
. . .Unfortunately what the public received from the panel of “experts” was a lot of propaganda that was long on language and short on solid answers leaving little time for audience participation. Just another well-rehearsed play written by the oil and gas industry.Dave Christianson, from Minnesota Department of Transportation, acted as the industry’s best sales rep as he jovially mentioned how much money his high school buddy is making off of sand mining. . . .
Next up? Jeff Broberg. Name ring a bell? Those who have been following the broad narrative of industrial sand mining here may recognize it from our October 2011 post, Fracking sand firm representative to Winona County citizens: "I have a higher level of rights":
It's no wonder that Rochester-based development company McGhie & Betts representative Jeff Broberg was booed by the crowd that packed the a Winona County Planning Commission meeting Thursday night.
The Winona Daily News reports in a Winona County Planning Commission meeting Thursday night:
Broberg’s time at the podium eventually caused contention, and after he was challenged to stick to the recommended two-minute time limit, he responded:
“As the applicant’s representative, I have a higher level of rights on these issues,” Broberg said.
The crowd booed.
With the event costing $25 for chamber members, and $25 for nonmembers, we doubt there will be any of that.
Speaking of higher level of rights, the mayor of Fracsandville himself is on the docket, though billed by his proper lobbyist title, although he's still Red Wing mayor until April 1st. Perhaps he'll mention the City of Red Wing's resolution supporting a GEIS and one-year moratorium. Or maybe discuss the ethics of mining.
And Egan will no stranger to the Rochester chamber members, for sure. After all he spent seven months as the organization's president back over eleven years ago.
What the frac, indeed.
Screengrab: The emailed invitation, in two parts.
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