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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

Frac sand news roundup: ‘I don’t care if the trucks are hauling frac sand, frozen pizzas or water. The volume of trucks is just unacceptable’

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The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page. Eleven minor earthquakes in Oklahoma over the course of one weekend renewed concerns that hydraulic fracturing is to blame. RT July 14

New numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show U.S. natural gas output at a record high, due mainly to more hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale. Bloomberg Businessweek July 15

Pennsylvania-based Preferred Sands is planning to open a new frac sand facility in 2015 that will “extend our current geographic reach to service every major basin in North America,” according to president and CEO Michael O’Neill. Continue Reading