This week, House and Senate members, the governor’s administration, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) came to an agreement on legislation regarding silica sand mining in Minnesota. These provisions will be proposed in the Environment Finance Conference Committee.
A key provision provides new permitting authority to the DNR over any new silica sand mine proposal that is located within one-mile of a designated trout stream in Southern Minnesota. A hydrological study must be performed and the new silica sand mining trout stream setback permit issued by the DNR will contain restrictions to prevent potential impacts to trout stream.
Another key silica sand mining provision includes creating a state agency technical advisory team to help local governments properly regulate projects that require local permits, requiring the state technical advisory team to set standards and criteria for local governments to use for important issues such as setbacks and buffers, hours of operation, air quality and dust monitoring, noise testing, inspection and storage pile requirements. This legislation will also create new rules by the MPCA regulating dust emissions and new rules by the DNR creating statewide standards for reclaiming mine lands.
“We have worked together to create a reasonable, bipartisan approach to regulate the silica sand mining industry. These provisions will protect the health and well-being of our citizens, natural resources, infrastructure, small communities and tourism industry that help make Southeastern Minnesota so unique, while still providing opportunities for job growth and economic development,” Miller said. “This language will continue to allow our local government to make local decisions, while allowing them to tap into state resources to assist with the process.”