Bluestem's "What The Hey?" moment of the day came when reading an item in the Chippewa Herald, DNR concedes its rules are faulty, then allows more frac sand mining:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is allowing more frac sand mines to open even though it let its environmental regulations on the industry expire nine months ago because the rules didn't adequately protect streams from pollution, a state water regulator has confirmed.
Over the last four years the DNR has approved more than 200 sand mining operations under a 2009 non-metallic mining permit that was designed to prevent pollution from gravel pits, not the sprawling sand extraction operations that each day ship hundreds of rail cars of silica sand to natural gas and oil drilling sites.
"The initial non-metallic mining permit did not contemplate these kinds of operations," DNR water division administrator director Russ Rasmussen said.
The result has been spills of sand, silt, clay and chemicals into waterways, including some of the state's pristine trout streams as sand operators have failed to prevent rains from washing away sand piles or overwhelming storm water basins that collect contaminants. . . .
Sand mines, processing plants and rail loading facilities have been approved under the DNR's general permit for non-metallic mining. The department uses a general permit because each facility has similar potential environmental impacts, although it's possible to make modifications, Rasmussen said.
The department can write individual permits for each new facility, but it is much more time consuming, Rasmussen said.
Rules don't work to protect streams? Let them expire. But don't hesitate in permitting more mines.
Perhaps this was where Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson came up with the idea of just repealing laws that require local enforcement of provisions protecting buffer strips and other conservation measures, while opposing state enforcement.
To heck with streams in Wisconsin or pheasant habitat in Minnesota if it's just too much trouble or whatever.
Photo: Runoff from a Wisconsin frac sand mine into Eighteen Mile Creek, a Class I trout stream. Chippewa Herald. Scientists tell us--and Bluestem has it on personal observation--that fish can't "breathe" sand or soil through their gills. Just saying.
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