I want to thank Senator Matt Schmit, on behalf of Save-The-Bluffs, for introducing a frac sand bill at the Capitol last Tuesday. Matt's bill is a "three-legged stool" which contains a state moratorium, a Generic Environmental Impact Statement, and MPCA standards. The language containing a multi-county Sand Board and severance tax is like a "cushion" on top of the stool - nice, but not required for functionality. The three legs are the most important part. This bill would keep a lid on permitting new frac sand operations while the State Agencies take a broad brush look at the cumulative impacts - then the MPCA can develop the very important air quality and water quality/quantity standards on frac sand mining, processing and transport. Counties are doing a lot of hard work on their own ordinances. They do not have the resources to study multi-county cumulative impacts nor do they possess the authority to establish badly needed air quality/water quality and quantity standards. This is the crux of the frac sand bill - WE NEED THE BIG PICTURE.
The frac sand industry is a gargantuan sized business. It's not a "Mom and Pop" five to ten acre construction sand mine. Let's talk thousands of acres. Comparatively, a large frac sand mine in Wisconsin equals the entire acreage of the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport! If we have 100 of these sites in the drift-less area, what's the impact on the entire river valley in Southeast Minnesota?
The House of Representatives is authoring a bill that looks quite different than Senator Schmit's. It doesn't have the "three legs" which would generate the desired outcome, thus far. The Senate and House need to work together on this to produce the correct results. Fix the problems and take action together. We need a bi-partisan approach and a win-win or we'll pay the ultimate price as did western Wisconsin.
Contact your district's Senator or Representative and let them know you want action. We need protections for all of our southeastern counties and their citizens.