Frac sand discussions hit the capitol - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Frac sand discussions hit the capitol

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC/AP) -- Being in Southeast Minnesota, we've been surrounded by the frac sand discussions.  Tuesday at the capitol, it was time for lawmakers to join in the hot topic, as the frac industry made it's way to committee hearings.

Inside a packed hearing room, it was time for lawmakers to listen to the viewpoints from both sides of the isle.  Mostly regarding the frac sand's epicenter,  southeast Minnesota.

"The tourism economy that the byway supports will be negatively impacted by silica sand development unless potential impacts are avoided, minimized, or mitigated in the permitting process," said Carol Zoff of MnDOT.

The discussions revolved around the notion of whether or not the state should step in when it comes to regulating the frac sand operations within its borders.

"Beautiful little towns like Wabasha contribute to the high quality of life we have come to brag about here in Minnesota," said Wabasha City Council Member Lynn Schoen. "The state needs to get involved now to help us protect our home."

"We don't believe that there is anything generic about any of the facilities or the processing," said Tiller Corporation's Mike Caron.  "They're each unique and each of them should be studied on their own so that all of the local issues and concerns can be dealt with."

However, it's not just the southeast region.  "Greater Mankato Growth has said they see two or three projects of this type per year.  See them... much less bring the to fruition," said CEO Scott Sustacek.  "And we would very much like to bring this one forward and start growing in Mankato."

The industry raises concerns of increased truck traffic, health concerns and overall quality of life.

"People don't open hotels, restaurants, and merchants for the business of mining because they know it's going to go away," said Save The Bluffs Spokeswoman Jody McIlrath.

Sen. John Marty of Roseville, who chaired the hearing, says a state-wide study of the industry may call for temporary moratorium on new mines.

A bill to do just that is expected to be introduced on Thursday.

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