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Frac sand mining opponents push for three-year moratorium

WINONA, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The disagreement on frac mining sites across Minnesota continued Thursday as one environmental group called for a moratorium on new sites.

Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center, along with neighbors of existing and proposed mining sites, gathered in Winona to push a three-year moratorium on future frac sand mining sites across Minnesota. The three-year "time out" request, which will be sent to Gov. Mark Dayton with more than 400 signatures, is the latest attempt to slow the momentum of frac sand mining operations.

People who spoke out were concerned about the potential health risks associated with mining sites, with one Houston County property owner sharing why he is against the sites.

"Now it has gotten personal to me," said Bryan Van Gorp, who lives near Rushford. "My neighbor, to make money, will steal a significant portion of my property value and decrease my quality of life. That seems not right."

An environmental study can be done on any site even without a moratorium, but those who spoke Thursday said that won't stop sites from popping up, which is why they are submitting their proposal to the governor.

"Frac sand mining has come just so quickly to this region that there's been, shockingly, little study of its impacts," said Samantha Chadwick with Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center. "So, what we want is time to understand the risks and to figure out how to best protect communities in Minnesota from the dangers, or if it should be allowed at all."

The speakers made it clear that they are not completely opposed to frac sand mining projects, but that the dangers of expansion are being ignored because of potential economic factors.

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