Minn. senators weigh moratorium, silica issues - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Minn. senators weigh moratorium, silica issues

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (WXOW) - Minnesota senators will discuss whether to halt new silica sand mines while the state studies the booming industry.

The possibility of a statewide moratorium is part of a broader effort from Sen. Matt Schmit to establish firm regulations for silica sand mining. The Senate Energy and Environment committee was expected on Tuesday to take up and vote on Schmit's bill.

The Red Wing Democrat's bill calls for the creation of a regional board to regulate silica mining and a statewide environmental study to gauge the industry's effects on air, water and roads.

Schmit says it balances a desire for local control while giving the state some authority.

Industry proponents and critics packed the Capitol last week for a first-ever hearing on silica mining, which has grown rapidly in southeastern Minnesota.

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