February 25, 2015

Frac sand news roundup: Minnesota county mining ban ‘an amazing move and victory for the people’

An overview of the 400-acre plot of Preferred Sands mine in Blair, Wis., in Trempealeau County on June 20, 2012.

Lukas Keapproth/WCIJ

An overview of the 400-acre plot of Preferred Sands mine in Blair, Wis., in Trempealeau County on June 20, 2012.

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

Minnesota’s Houston County may become the first in the state to permanently ban frac sand mining after an unanimous vote last week to approve a new mining ordinance. Meanwhile, Alberta-based rail company Canadian Pacific is upgrading its tracks, which carry crude oil as well as sand through the county, and a Houston County resident is still planning multiple frac sand mining operations in the area. But frac sand opponents are still optimistic: “This is an amazing move and victory for the people,” said one resident. Star Tribune February 20, La Crosse Tribune February 11 & 23

University of Iowa scientists have found smooth, round sand that’s just the right size for frac sand mining in Winneshiek County, in northeastern Iowa. The county currently has a moratorium set to expire in October of this year. Decorah Newspapers February 12

After nearly a year, the Wisconsin towns of Lincoln and Burnside have settled a lawsuit against the city of Independence for trying to annex land on behalf of Texas-based mining company Superior Silica Sands. A provision of the settlement barring Independence from frac sand-related annexations for 20 years may face challenges. The townships and miners are reportedly working on property value and well water quality guarantees for neighbors. Winona Post February 16

It was only a matter of time before the oil price drop would hit Wisconsin’s frac sand industry. Now EOG Resources in Chippewa County is saying production has definitely slowed. EOG hasn’t laid anyone off and doesn’t predict that it will, but its contractors are being affected. Chippewa Herald February 21

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection analyzed fracking companies’ waste production data and found that more sand is being used per well than previously, and as a result more sand is ending up in landfills. At least one oil company reports a 71percent increase in frac sand use since 2011. Power Source February 22

Public input meetings for a statewide strategic analysis on frac sand mining will begin this week in Chippewa County. Meetings will occur throughout the state into March; the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimates the study will be completed in a year. There are currently three meetings scheduled. For times and locations, check out Midwest Environmental AdvocatesLeader-Telegram February 23