The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page.
It’s been an emotional month in Houston County, Minn. In February, the County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to ban frac sand mining. But just two weeks later, three of the five commissioners had a change of heart, voting against both the ban and a new zoning ordinance. Since that vote, three Houston County residents have filed ethics complaints against the county zoning administrator, citing a conflict of interest and misrepresentation of facts. County Commissioner Judy Storlie said frac sand opponents filed the complaint because they weren’t happy with the board’s decision: “There are people who just won’t stop unless there is a ban.” La Crosse Tribune February 25, Winona Post March 9, MPR News March 11
Despite pressure from frac sand opponents in Winona County’s Saratoga Township, two incumbent officials won in the recent spring elections. The Winona County board recently voted to extend a resolution requiring state agencies to assess the environmental impacts of mines. La Crosse Tribune March 11
Two Hi-Crush Partners execs are major donors to Gov. Walker’s political action committee, Our American Revival. Last year the Texas-based mining company found itself in some hot water after operating several high-capacity wells without a permit, resulting in over $52,000 in fines to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. WKOW March 16
Public hearings for a statewide strategic analysis on frac sand mining are already under way, but you don’t have to attend the meetings to give input. The DNR now has an online portal for citizens to submit comments and concerns. Comments will be accepted until April 20. WPR March 18
Wisconsin’s frac sand industry is feeling the impacts of lower oil and natural gas prices. Chippewa Sand Transport recently announced that 55 workers, mostly truck drivers hauling sand, could lose their jobs this May. Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation President Charlie Walker said that while losing jobs is always bad, Wisconsin is going to have to get used to the cyclical movements of the oil industry. WQOW March 24
The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.