Frac sand news roundup: DNR ‘needs to step up … even if that means calling a statewide timeout’

The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page. A neighborhood group in the city of Prairie du Chien is planning a petition to prevent the building of a proposed $1 million frac sand loading facility. The petition is in response to a century-and-a-half-old loophole which allows Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Co. to go ahead with the facility even though the city denied it a zoning permit. December 19 SW News 4U

Citing environmental mishaps and permit lapses in 2014, an editorial from a paper in the heart of frac sand country calls for the DNR to “step up its game” on regulating the industry. December 28 Leader-Telegram

The Houston County Board of Commissioners in Minnesota says concerns over possible mining in Houston County took up most of its time in 2014. And despite potential ordinances on the table to impose strict regulations if mining should occur, some residents aren’t convinced it will work. December 30 Post-Bulletin, January 2 Winona Daily News

When it comes to fracking, air quality concerns took center stage in 2014. Continue Reading

Your Right to Know: Official calendars are a basic public record

Jason Smathers

It’s a pretty simple question for a public official: “What exactly do you do with your time?”

Sometimes, the best way to answer that question is to obtain the official’s calendar, through the state’s open records law. In my work as a reporter, I’ve done this for the state treasurer and his staff, who work for an office with few official duties. I’ve also used the monthly calendars of Gov. Scott Walker to plot his travel and track his day-to-day meetings. So when I wanted a better understanding of how the duties of Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen and Chief Administrative Officer Jim Amodeo overlap, I asked to see their calendars. Amodeo’s response was simply, “Oh, OK.”

Vandersteen’s response was more terse. 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