From: Steve Schild
The debate about the frac-sand industry in Winona County and the rest of the region comes down to a question: Does the industry pose threats to the environment, the economy, and the general quality of life for the people who live here?
The best way to answer that question is to study the relevant issues and make a decision based on the outcome of that study. I’m writing to urge the Winona County Board to order an environmental review (Environmental Assessment Worksheet is the formal term) about the proposed Nisbit mine, which would, if approved, become Winona County’s first frac-sand mine. The Nisbit project raises many concerns, including:
• truck traffic—up to 280 trips daily—and the high volume of diesel fumes it would produce in and around Winona, Stockton, Utica and Lewiston;
• long-term damage to the local economy through loss of tourism, which is a significant portion of the region’s economy;
• groundwater contamination, as the Nisbit mine site is in an area known to have a moderate to high susceptibility for sinkhole formation;
• inhalation of tiny, invisible sand particles that can cause lung damage for people who live and work along truck routes and near processing plants; and, last but not least,
• the degradation of the area’s aesthetic beauty and the resulting harm that would do to the overall quality of life in the area.
There’s another reason the County Board should authorize an environmental review: It’s the law. Minnesota Administrative Rule 4410.1100, Subpoint 6, REQUIRES an environmental review for any project that “may have the potential for significant environmental effects.” That description clearly fits the proposed Nisbit mine.
Conducting an environmental review of the Nisbit frac-sand mine proposal is the only sensible, legal step open to the county board.