From: Doug Nopar
Land Stewardship Project
Residents of southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin are calling for increased transparency from the newly arrived and fast-growing frac sand industry. Now that the Winona County moratorium on frac sand development has expired and applications for mines and processing facilities are under consideration, Land Stewardship Project members are calling for increased scrutiny of this previously unknown outside industry.
“Now is the time for us to ask hard questions of this outside industry, before our communities and blufflands are pockmarked with mines,” said Barb Nelson, a Land Stewardship Project member from rural Lewiston. “Many of us have just now returned from a quick bus trip over to Dodge, Wisconsin, to look at a frac sand mine where we saw the early stages of blufftop removal. We don’t like what we’re seeing. And while this particular mine is only slated to grow to 50 acres, we’re concerned about how this mining is getting out of hand. We need to know what effect frac sand mining will have on our water and our air. We need to know what will happen to our farm economy when the price of land goes up and there is less land available to farm. Beginning farmers already face huge barriers to getting started. How will the next generation of family farmers afford land when the frac sand industry is driving the price through the roof?”
Over the course of two years, the frac sand industry has exploded in western Wisconsin and is now poised to expand into Southeastern Minnesota. It is increasingly clear that many of the mines and processing facilities built in Wisconsin and now proposed in Minnesota are owned by companies and corporations from outside the state or outside the country. Local residents and public officials deserve to know where the money is coming from—and where the profits are going.
LSP Policy Organizer Johanna Rupprecht of Lewiston said, “We want to know about the distant corporate connections in this industry, and to pull back the curtain. Which corporations? And who are their local collaborators? Who is providing the financing for this industry to get established, acquire land, and put up processing plants?”
Said Nelson, “I’ve got grandkids and great-grandkids. Don’t we want to save all of this for them? Do we really want oil and gas corporations being able to make decisions that fit their bottom line quite well, but leave us with communities and land that are altered forever?”