Axiom: In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by that which we refuse to destroy.
There’s a lot of hot air in your letter on frac sand, Senator, and not much else.
You still seem to be unaware that a lot of your constituents have been educating themselves on the frac sand mining issue for more than a year. It’s not clear that you’ve done the same. Your rhetoric comes across as an excuse to cover not only your ignorance, but your refusal to support necessary protections for our most important, our most valuable natural resource in Southeastern Minnesota — our water.
We are angry because a lot of your constituents have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to understand the issues associated with frac sand mining, and as far as we can tell, from what little you actually say, you’ve made nothing like that effort — even though industrial scale frac sand mining has the potential to do serious damage to this part of the state. Instead, you try to brush us off with platitudes.
We needed a moratorium to have the time to do an in-depth study and you didn’t want the moratorium. At the capitol you said you never had the opportunity to actually vote on the moratorium, or the Generic Environmental Impact Statement, but you certainly had the opportunity — and the moral obligation — to speak out in support of it to your colleagues. If you truly value research and science, Senator Miller, then why didn’t you speak out to support this request for research and science about frac sand?
You said, “Let’s make sure we work with the experts and look at the research and science before passing new laws.” Don’t you think it would be more important to work with the experts and look at the research and science before allowing frac sand mining. And, if the Minnesota DNR and Minnesota Trout Unlimited aren’t experts about trout, then who is? If you cannot support protecting our waters, according to the expert advice of the DNR, I think you owe it to us to confess a profits-trump-protections philosophy.
You also want each county to decide what’s adequate for them without meaningful regional standards and state standards. But with this issue, what happens in Fillmore County isn’t necessarily going to stay in Fillmore County. Re: the recent manure lagoon failure near Canton, Minnesota, which spilled up to one million gallons of liquid manure into four area streams, Donaldson Creek, Weisel Creek, and South Fork Branch of the Root River which subsequently flowed into Root River in Houston County.
You said, “The standards and criteria shall be different for contrasting geographic areas of the state. The uncommon karst conditions and landforms of Southeastern Minnesota will be considered unique when compared with the flat scoured river terraces and uniform hydrology of the Minnesota (River) Valley.” Really? Perhaps, that is the reason Senator Schmit’s proposed amendment that you opposed ONLY applied to the driftless region in Southeastern Minnesota! Imagine that.
It would appear you have paid a great deal of attention to industry rhetoric, such as the promise of jobs and state competitiveness. Before accepting their statements as fact, you are encouraged to consider the following:
According to Industrial Minerals, Wisconsin produces more frac sand than any other state. Wisconsin companies have been mining frac sand since at least 2007. It may be surmised Wisconsin’s economy is on the smaller side among all states. If Wisconsin is the biggest producer of frac sand in the nation, and they’ve been doing it for at least six years, shouldn’t this “important industry” have had a positive effect on Wisconsin’s economy by now? According to a report released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in April of this year, Wisconsin ranks 45 out of the 50 states in long-term job growth, and dead last (50 out of 50) in short-term job growth.
We urge you to focus on protecting the health, safety and welfare of Minnesota residents, rather than the empty promises of industry when you consider frac sand mining regulation in Minnesota. And, nothing you have proposed goes into effect now to prevent damage now. Congratulations, Senator Miller.