In Frac sand update: DNR requires Erickson Mine to cease, acquire trout stream setback permit, we looked at the DNR's decision to enforce a new law produced by a compromise in the 2013 legislative session.
Since then, the mine owners have complained that their operation was being singled out, while the DNR replied that this was not the case (see letters below).
Meanwhile, Marilyn Frauenkron Bayer, a Land Stewardship Project member from Houston County, writes in an op-ed piece for the Rochester Post Bulletin, DNR silica sand mine decision was right for Houston County:
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources should be commended for its decisive action to ensure important new laws to protect trout streams from silica sand mining are not ignored. The law is straightforward and requires silica sand mines within one mile of a trout stream to get a DNR silica sand mining trout stream setback permit before mining.
The DNR told the owners of the Erickson silica sand mine in Houston County that mining at their site would require this permit. Despite this, the mine owners started mining without the permit. Acting quickly, the DNR ordered mining to stop, in accordance with the law. . . .
The misinformation about the issue from some Houston County officials is troubling and two issues must be clarified. First, the DNR permit is about silica sand mining. It does not matter what the end use of the silica sand is. The law mandates if a company wants to mine silica sand within a mile of a trout stream, it needs a DNR permit. Anything dug at the Erickson site will be silica sand. Calling it "construction sand" does not change that.
Second, the DNR permit is focused on protecting trout streams. It is up to the DNR to ensure silica sand mines within one mile of a trout stream apply for the permit and set the requirements for receiving one. It is separate from a Houston County land use permit,which also is required. This regulatory structure is common. For example, very large factory farms must receive a local land use permit and a permit from the state Pollution Control Agency. They need both to operate and getting the county permit does not guarantee they will get the state-level permit. Oddly, some Houston County officials seem surprised by this and that Minnesota state law applies to Houston County. . . .
Here's the Erickson letter and attachments:
And the DNR responds. Note that the agency is clear that the mine isn't being singled out. The new law was a compromise that lobbyists for the industrial sand industry helped craft.
Here's the DNR's response:
Image: Map of Ferndale Brook and other trout streams. Ferndale Brook is in the lower left hand corner of the image, via DNR.
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