Although they were only given 15 minutes to the industry reps' 1 hour, 15 minutes in the Minnesota House Mining & Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee meetingTuesday, citizens delivered passionate testimony at the close of a frac sand mining "Informational" hearing In St. Paul.
"Dear god, next time would you please invite us to the table and don't assume northern Minnesota is the same as southern Minnesota," said Wabasha city council member Lynn Schoen, who also sits on the panel making recommendations for the state's proposed frac sand mining regulations.
As we had reported Monday in Mining & Outdoor Wrecks Committee: Hackbarth's frac sand industry showcase:
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.
Although they were only given 15 minutes to the industry reps' 1 hour, 15 minutes, some citizens parted with Rupprecht and testified. Their comments were a stark contrast with the industry spokesters, who not only presented information, but opinion ans objections to current law and proposed regulations of the sand mining industry.
Take Wabasha City Council Member Lynn Schoen, via video and text from The Uptake's Minnesota Channel report on Youtube: Towns Not Being Heard In Frac Sand Mining Debate Says Wabasha City Councilwoman:
Frac sand mining opponent Lynn Schoen didn't know until the last minute that she would be allowed to testify before the Minnesota House Mining Committee. That's because the committee's chair, Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) originally said only industry groups would be allowed to testify about the controversial mining that fuels the oil fracking industry in states such as North Dakota, but can create serious environmental problems in Minnesota.
Schoen and several others were given time only after Hackbarth decided to skip testimony from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and allow non-industry groups 15 minutes. The big mining companies had been given more than an hour of time to state their case.
Schoen got about 90 seconds and made the most of it.
Schoen is also a councilwoman in Wabasha, a town that sees many frac sand mining trucks on its streets. She says the problem is not the large sand producers who testified before the committee because they are "good guys" who follow the rules.
"What scares little towns like mine are the is the little cowboy guys that just come in and do what they want to do," said Schoen. Other testifiers had said trucks filled with sand drive through towns and don't always cover their loads, which releases particulates into the air.
Schoen says because the committee only invited the big producers to speak, they're not seeing the whole picture. . . .
Schoen closed by saying "Dear god, next time would you please invite us to the table and don't assume northern Minnesota is the same as southern Minnesota," which drew a round of applause from those in the audience.
Read the entire report at The Uptake's Minnesota Channel on YouTube. We'll have more as additional video becomes available.
Photo: Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar.
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