Online petition calls for halt to frac sand mining in Wisconsin

2014-01-28T13:30:00Z Online petition calls for halt to frac sand mining in WisconsinJESSICA VANEGEREN | The Capital Times | jvanegeren@madison.com madison.com

Some 75 civic and environmental groups have endorsed a resolution started by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice that calls for a ban on frac sand mining and a halt to a bill that would strip the ability of local governments to regulate the booming industry.

“Since 2011, legislative efforts have undermined Wisconsin’s democratic tradition and conservation heritage by weakening environmental protections, eroding the authority of the state Department of Natural Resources to make science-based rules, preventing DNR enforcement staff from doing their jobs and reducing public input in the iron mine permitting process,” reads the petition.

So far, nearly 450 people have signed the online petition.

The resolution was delivered to Gov. Scott Walker and members of the Republican-controlled state Legislature, along with state and federal regulators earlier this month. Organizations signing on in support include 49 Wisconsin groups and 29 other groups from seven states where Wisconsin sand is used for hydraulic fracturing.

The number of frac sand mines and processing centers has more than doubled in the past two years to more than 140 either operating or in the planning stages, according to data from the Wisconsin Center on Investigative Journalism.

The mining operations are changing the landscape of western Wisconsin, where the hard silica sand is most abundant.

At the same time the state’s frac sand industry is booming, a handful of Republican lawmakers are trying to roll back regulations or prevent local governments from regulating it and other industries.

For that reason, the resolution also calls for lawmakers to block passage of Senate Bill 349, authored by Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, and Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, that would also prevent municipalities and counties from imposing any regulations on air and water quality for any industry, not just frac sand mining, moving forward.

A big concern for residents near frac sand operations is crystalline silica dust, a known lung carcinogen that is a byproduct of the mining process. The state doesn’t monitor or regulate silica dust amounts in the air and if SB 349 was passed into law, neither could local governments.

“This bill has a much broader reach than the frac sand industry,” said Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, following a public hearing on the bill in October. “It is really an anti-environmental bill that is cloaked in the garb of needing to create more frac sand jobs.”

The bill would nullify an untold number of licensing and regulatory agreements across the state that deal with air and water quality, including a recently passed moratorium on frac sand mining permits in Trempealeau County, a town of Rosendale ordinance that bans the aerial spraying of manure and a three-year ban on the same practice by Adams County.

“Wisconsin has historically used strong regulation to ensure that a clean environment is preserved for future generations because our well-informed citizens have stood up to demand it,” reads the resolution.

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(9) Comments

  1. safetypro
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    safetypro - January 29, 2014 10:40 am
    Let's explain a few things. Wisconsin may not have regulations on silica dust (I don't know haven't researched), but the EPA does. So companies have to meet national standards, which are very strict.
    So, what the legislaturer is doing is saying that the local government can not pass additional regulations on silica companies, well any company actually.
    The difficulty with environmental regulations is that there are federal, state, and then local regulations. So, a lot of effort has to be put forth and a lot of time to make sure that regulations are met. The bill would simplify matters and halt any new local regulations from being passed.
    As far as the in my backyard, I work at a silica facility and live in the same town, so I must not have too big of an issue with it.
  2. davea
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    davea - January 29, 2014 9:22 am
    Good for everyone else, but not in my back yard, right?
  3. correctthinking
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    correctthinking - January 29, 2014 8:30 am
    You WILL NOT STOP FRAC SAND MINING in Wisconsin EVER!! Get it thru your Berkeley burnout heads. SB349 in its current form will not pass and will be redone to give local government more power to monitor frac sand, try reading instead of what you goofs dream up at the commune that doesn't exist. Open your ears instead of your mouths, if you are so scared you are going to die from the dust...MOVE!!
  4. IAD
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    IAD - January 29, 2014 7:28 am
    Wow... what about sand mines used for making cement for building roads, sand used in foundries or filling the kid's sand box. Its all the same stuff people. You may want to remove your heads from it and come out into the real world.
  5. bosco
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    bosco - January 28, 2014 10:14 pm
    This bill is surprising from the standpoint that conservatives are trying to take power away at the local level. We need less big gov and more local control.
  6. College Didn't Take
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    College Didn't Take - January 28, 2014 9:34 pm
    Plenty of conservative stupid to go around on this thread. My dullard's face should feel right at home here.
  7. WI_Expat
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    WI_Expat - January 28, 2014 3:51 pm
    Time to start a counter petition...sure I can get someone from energy industry to help set it up.

    Call it: "Let's Keep People Warm with American Fuels"

    If people are gullible enough to believe the label "Affordable Care Act" they'll bite for this one in droves on a cold day like today!
  8. witness2012
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    witness2012 - January 28, 2014 2:43 pm
    Every citizen in the state should sign this petition. Without local control, your community and its quality of life can be destroyed and your local governments will be powerless to stop it.

    A vote against SB349 is a vote for democracy at the municipal and county level.
  9. mbadger
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    mbadger - January 28, 2014 1:53 pm
    Libs from Obama on down will do anything to kill jobs. Their goal is to completely kill off the middle class and then blame Repubs for it.
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