KARE-11 reports in Pepin County leaders say no to frac sand mining plant:
Stockholm Township is just a whistle stop kind of place, population 66, nestled along the bluffs in Pepin County.
"People have been coming down here for hundreds of years and they know about the beauty," County Board member Bill Mavity said Thursday night.
Mavity says it was his duty to protect that beauty from the prospect of a massive silica sand processing plant proposed to set up shop in that township.
That is why he and eight other board members issued a 9-3 vote Wednesday banning a company from setting up the plant along the river in Pepin County between the townships of Pepin and Stockholm.
"It's quiet. It's clean, and it's beautiful. Frac sand mining, no matter how you look at it is dirty, noisy and ugly and once you lose the beauty it can't come back. You can't reclaim it," Mavity said. . . .
Here's the video clip of the broadcast:
The Winona Daily News reports in Frac mine, processing plant proposed in Buffalo County town of Dover that Dover will be going down that road, and the sand will be hauled to Minnesota:
Four landowners in Buffalo County’s town of Dover have applied for permits to mine and process frac sand on 359 acres over the next 20 to 30 years.
River Valley Sands LCC would mine 226 acres off State Hwy. 121 and use conveyors to move sand to a 133-acre sand washing plant. It plans to haul 1.44 million tons of sand a year, using 50 trucks to haul 200 loads a day on a planned primary route of State Hwy. 121 to State Hwy. 93 to State Hwy. 54/35 to Winona. A secondary route would send the sand to Wabasha. . . .
Read the whole article at the Daily News. Environment & Energy Publishing reports that Winona's location gives Wisconsin train shippers an advantage:
The rail-sand symbiosis works both ways, however, as seen less than 40 miles down the tracks in Winona, Minn. There, a rail loading terminal has temporarily closed its doors and officials report stagnant frac sand traffic in part due to infrastructure restraints.
"We're basically on a sand bar in the Mississippi River valley, so land is limited," said Carlos Espinosa, assistant city planner for Winona. "So the ability to create unit trains in the city is limited as well."
Winona sits at the confluence of several major rail lines, including a Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. route. In addition to operating the Soo Line along the Mississippi River, in 2008 Canadian Pacific acquired the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (DM&E) railroad that runs west from Winona to South Dakota. The railway company did not respond to requests for comment about its Minnesota operations.
"We do have capacity to send out frac sand via rail," Espinosa said, "but the real room for growth is in western Wisconsin, where they have a lot more land, a lot more area."
The regulatory environment in Wisconsin is also seen as friendlier toward frac sand miners. The Minnesota Legislature recently allowed local governments to extend moratoria on mining for up to two years, and companies hoping to mine on more than 20 acres of land must now complete a costly environmental impact assessment (EnergyWire, May 24). Critics of the frac sand industry often take issue with increased traffic near mining sites and point to the health hazards posed by silica dust.
Local pushback, infrastructure and regulatory constraints have combined to keep Minnesota's frac sand industry relatively small. Wisconsin has roughly 105 active frac sand mines, according to the state DNR, while Minnesota can claim eight or nine.
"Everything's working against [frac sand] in Minnesota right now," said Dave Christianson, senior planner for freight and rail at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "And the industrial development in Wisconsin is pretty much picking up all the slack."
Christianson said many of the richest sand deposits in southeastern Minnesota fall too far away from existing rail lines to be readily developed. While frac sand companies in Wisconsin sometimes truck their product as far as 60 miles to reach rail or barge terminals, shipping directly by rail can save frac sand producers as much as $10 per ton, according to a Sept. 14, 2012, Raymond James report.
Meanwhile, MPR (via the Kenyon Leader) reports in Limited frac sand mining approved in Goodhue County:
After almost two years of debate, the Goodhue County Board of Commissioners approved two ordinances to regulate the frac sand mining industry.
The new rules in Goodhue County limit mineral extraction facility operation sites to 40 acres of exposed or uncovered ground at any one time; mining operations are limited to the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday; the county is given authority to require air quality monitoring; and mining must be 1,000 feet from any existing dwelling or platted residential subdivision.
The rules also allow the county to add additional conditions to mitigate noise, dust, hours of operation or blasting.
About 80 people filled a room in Red Wing for a public hearing that included comments from 25 people, including Red Wing resident Michelle Meyer.
Like most people at the meeting, Meyer asked county commissioners to extend an existing countywide moratorium on sand mining operations.
“It’s painfully obvious to me that the risks of frac sand mining outweigh any conceived benefits,” Meyer said. “Nearly everyone here is pointing those risks out to you, one by one, person by person, and we are not alarmists. We are not fear-mongerers. We are informed people.” . . .
Check it out at the Kenyon Leader.
Photo: A silica sand mine in Wisconsin. Photo by Jim Tittle.
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