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

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

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. Continue Reading

Frac sand news roundup: ‘Even the smallest communities have the right to decide what does and doesn’t happen’

The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page. More than 40 percent of the registered voters in the Winona County, Minn.,  township of Saratoga have signed a petition calling for a moratorium on frac sand mining in the area. “Even the smallest communities have the right to decide what does and doesn’t happen in their community,” said activist Johanna Rupprecht. Winona Daily News November 25

Less than one month since the first city in Texas banned hydraulic fracturing, industry supporters are wondering whether they should blame their defeat on Denton’s large college student population. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

The number of CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, has shot up in the past decade — as have concerns about their impact on water quality and quantity.

Big farms, frac sand mines could feel force of judge’s groundwater ruling

Two weeks ago, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Boldt approved the state Department of Natural Resources’ issuance of permits for a large and controversial dairy farm in Central Wisconsin. But he also reduced the amount of water the farm could pump from proposed high-capacity wells and required the DNR to consider the impact of the withdrawals in conjunction with other, nearby wells — a concept known as cumulative impacts. Continue Reading

Racine County Judge Gerald Ptacek applauds after a defendant relates a story of success or progress in Racine County's Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court during this April 2012 session. Drug courts such as this one in Racine are seen as an effective way to cut incarceration costs and recidivism. But minority defendants in Wisconsin tend to be underrepresented in these diversion programs.

Experts: Drug choice, not race, fuels disparities in Wisconsin drug courts

According to a recent study by Washington University in St. Louis, 90 percent of heroin users are white, and most are young and live in the suburbs. By contrast, hospital studies show that African-Americans are much more likely than whites to abuse cocaine. And one University of Wisconsin-Madison expert said heroin addicts tend to commit less violent crimes than those on cocaine; many drug courts exclude violent offenders from participating. The result: Some drug courts, such as the one in Dane County, are now full of white heroin users. Continue Reading