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

Lobbying on 10-year Farm Bill reached $500 million, new analysis shows

This isn’t your father’s Farm Bill. That’s the finding of “Growing Influence: Lobbying and the 2014 Farm Bill,” a three-day series on the nearly $1 trillion spending plan signed into law in February by President Barack Obama. The bill, which will set national food and farm policy for the next decade, drew an estimated $500 million in lobbying by groups and companies ranging from large agri-business interests to nonprofits concerned about providing adequate food assistance to the poor. Harvest Public Media and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting teamed up on the series exposing the powerful interests that weighed in as Congress debated the $956 billion spending plan. The media outlets created a searchable database of all of the Farm Bill-related lobbying. Continue Reading

Wisconsin among several states with dust-ups over campaign coordination with outside groups

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a Dec. 19, 2012, interview at the governor's mansion. Kate Golden/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization based in Washington, D.C., has just published an article on alleged coordination between political campaigns and outside groups that cites Wisconsin as a prime example. Among its findings: The collaboration Gov. Scott Walker is accused of would “barely raise an eyebrow” in some states. Continue Reading

Podcast: Head in the (frac) sand

Alison Dirr on the frac sand beat at Superior Silica Sands in New Auburn, August 2013.

Reporter Alison Dirr just finished a yearlong internship with us, during which she covered the sprawling beat of Wisconsin’s fast-growing frac sand industry. We talk about that in the latest podcast. And below the audio link, further reflections from Dirr. Also, we now have music for the podcast. Alison Dirr: After a year as WisconsinWatch’s frac sand beat reporter, I’m leaving with a real appreciation of the complexity and nuance of this controversy. Continue Reading