Citizens concerned about the expansion of frac sand mining might get a little time at the end of a House Mining & Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee hearing, but the overview? That's still the domain of industry and citizens aren't happy.
Rochester Post Bulletin state government reporter Heather Carlson writes in Frac-sand mining opponents want House hearing canceled:
In an emailed statement, [Tom] Hackbarth [R- Cedar] said Tuesday's meeting on silica-sand mining is "purely informational" and "is meant to serve as an overview for panel members."
He added, "There will be a limited time reserved at the hearing for public comment. If, and when, we do hear legislation on silica sand mining or any other form of mining, we welcome and encourage public testimony. Citizens will be notified in advance of all bills heard in committee and we welcome their input.”
But the citizens want equal time, not an afterthought. Carlson writes:
Rupprecht said Hackbarth did invite her to testify before the committee on behalf of the Land Stewardship Project, but she declined because the group wants the public to be given the same amount of time to testify as lobbyists and representatives with the mining industry.
"What's necessary is equal time for members of the public and especially for rural citizens to speak on this with equal notice for people to be able to come up there and participate," she said.
Members of the nonprofit are planning to gather in front of the committee room before the meeting to reiterate their call that the hearing be canceled. Rupprecht said she expects 20 to 30 members to show up. If the hearing moves ahead, she said frac-sand opponents want the committee to schedule another hearing where members of the public will have a chance to testify.
Rupprecht asked, "Why don't they want to hear from people in places like Lanesboro or Houston or Wabasha down here in southeast Minnesota where outdoor recreation is a huge industry and is actually threatened by the potential for frac-sand development?"
It's a legitimate question.
For more coverage of this developing story, see our earlier posts, Mining & Outdoor Rec Committee invites frac sand mining industry to inform them about stuff and In a hole, digging deeper? Sen. David Tomassoni invites his committee to tour a frac sand mine.
Photo: Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar).
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.