A brief run-down of the permits required to open a frac sand mine or processing plant.
The rapid growth in Wisconsin’s frac sand industry is slowing, thanks to lower prices and increased supply. The sand is still in demand, but people who expected that they could get rich quick on the state’s sandy soils may be disappointed.
The growth in Wisconsin’s frac sand industry appears to be slowing down, but the state now has 95 operating or permitted frac sand facilities.
More than 50 people gathered Monday to protest frac sand mining outside a conference on the silica sand resources of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Concerns about the health, safety, and environmental impacts of the sudden boom in new industrial sand mining facilities are shared by many across the Upper Midwest.
Wasted Places is a collaborative investigation by six nonprofit newsrooms into federal and state programs designed to cleanup and redevelop polluted tracts known as brownfields.The project was coordinated by the Investigative News Network, and reported and written by the Connecticut Health Investigative Team, City Limits, Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and INN.
Sites that have been funded through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s brownfields program, as of August 2012.
The stated goals of the federal government’s Brownfields Program are to fund the cleanup of contamination, to improve the quality of life of blighted communities and to provide economic stimulus. But an investigation by nonprofit newsrooms across the country, coordinated by the Investigative News Network, found problems in every community examined.
While the state has made some progress with the backlog in the past two decades, a “startling” number of plant closings during the recent recession has created “an entirely new generation of brownfields,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Currently, there are no official employment numbers for the state’s rapidly expanding frac sand industry. But the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, using job-site estimates developed by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, found that when existing mines and those being built are fully operating, the industry will employ about 2,780 people — a sizeable number given the state’s overall luckluster job picture.
Frac sand fever has hit much of west-central Wisconsin, catching residents and local governments by surprise when demand for sand suddenly soared and permit applications began to pour in. The number of Wisconsin frac sand mining operations has more than doubled in the past year.
Five years ago, Wisconsin only had a handful of industrial sand facilities. Over the past two years, the increased demand for frac sand drove explosive growth in the state’s sand industry.
One national guru of the Agenda 21 movement is Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center. The self-described “businessman, grassroots activist, writer and publisher” has been fighting against Agenda 21 for two decades.