November 24, 2014

Frac sand news roundup: Sandy winds a-blowing

The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board’s chairman has ordered DNR staff to respond to a petition calling for a comprehensive study of the environmental impacts of frac sand mining in the state. The petition was organized by Midwest Environmental Advocates and signed by 1,100 people. October 29 Wisconsin Public Radio

Several residents near the Northern White Sands mine in Utica recently filed complaints with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency about sand from the Texas-based company’s operation blowing into their yards and homes. They fear winter’s winds will make things worse. November 1 News Tribune

Sioux Creek Silica LLC’s new mine and processing facility in Barron County will include a 4.7-mile long conveyor belt to carry sand from site to a loading facility. The company has plans to eventually adopt a completely “trucking free” model of operation. Sioux Creek, which is owned by Chetek-based Global Proppant Supply, is projected to be fully operational by the summer of 2015. November 6 Oil and Gas Financial Journal

Hydraulic fracturing requires nearly 2 million gallons of water per well — and as a result, many extraction opponents worry fracking will hurt water supplies. But Oilprice.com reports of a promising new technology GE and others that could mitigate the problem: replacing water with carbon dioxide. November 6 Oil Price

With oil prices dropping, officials say that the demand for natural gas in the short term has decreased. In northeastern Ohio, this has led drillers to hold off of fracking projects altogether until prices go up again. It isn’t yet clear how this will affect the frac sand industry in Wisconsin, although some project that big mining companies like U.S. Silica will be just fine and frac sand is a “secret growth opportunit(y).” November 9 The Star Beacon

The Land Stewardship Project, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that promotes sustainable agriculture and communities, used news articles and state data on environmental violations to paint the frac sand industry as one in which “violations are the norm, not the exception, and insider dealing, conflicts of interest, and influence peddling are common.” Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association president Rich Budinger chalked the environmental violations up to inexperience, and said they were unsurprising given the rapid expansion of mines in recent years. November 8 La Crosse Tribune

Two Trempealeau County towns have decided to sue the nearby town of Independence for annexing a frac sand mine. But to avoid costs of more than $80,000 in legal fees, the towns are trying to strike a deal that would include a promise from Independence not to annex any more frac sand mines. November 14 Wisconsin Public Radio

Teresa Walter was re-elected Commissioner in Houston County, and with her next four years she plans to tackle frac sand mining. She says that while an all-out ban is probably illegal, she hopes strict regulations will deter mines from moving to the county. November 12 La Crosse Tribune