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

Your Right to Know: Don’t let the UW hide research records

This blanket exemption would spare the UW from needing a good reason to deny access to these records, as current law requires. Instead, universities could categorically spurn inquiries from citizens, media and even lawmakers looking into controversial research, potential threats to public safety, conflicts of interest or how tax dollars are spent.
Continue Reading

Julia Hunter

Your Right to Know: State needs to fix drivers records access issue

In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled that the village of Palatine, Illinois, may have violated the act by leaving parking tickets, which included personal information, on the windshields of motorists. Some Wisconsin police departments, instructed by their insurers, began redacting personal information from police reports. No other state — not even Illinois, where the Palatine case occurred — adopted this interpretation.

Continue Reading

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