Thursday, September 12, 2013

11 Ways Frac Sand Mining Will Change YOUR Life

11 Ways Frac Sand Mining Will Change YOUR Life
(For more information, visit

1.    If you work…………………………….A Small Number of Short-term Jobs

Studies show frac sand mining represents a boom and bust cycle, where a smaller-than-expected number of jobs are created for local communities. These jobs are of limited duration.

2.    If you own a house……………….......Decreased Home Values

Nobody wants to live next to frac sand mines. Not even the people who own them. A 2006 Auburn University study discovered homes within a three-mile radius of a mining operation experience a permanent reduction in value: 30% next to the mine; 14.5% a mile away; 8.9% two miles away; 4.9% three miles away.

3.    If you pay taxes………………………..Higher Taxes

When a road built to last 20 years only lasts two, somebody must pay to fix it. When property values decline due to frac sand mining activity, somebody has to make up the difference in tax collections. Some Wisconsin counties have tried to offset the harm done by frac sand mining by increasing permit fees. Barron County’s permit review fee, which was $750, now runs as high as $10,000—just to cover staff time. And they’re still not breaking even.

4.    If you drive…………………………….Poor and Dangerous Roads

One mine can generate hundreds of trucks each day. Sand truck traffic can turn a 20-year road into a two-year road. It can also create hazards for pedestrians, children and vehicles—
not to mention noise and air pollution.

5.    If you breathe………………………….Increased Risk of Lung Diseases

Frac sand trucks spit out quantities of frac sand dust and generate dangerous levels of diesel exhaust. The sand itself is a health risk. According to H. Carpenter of the MN Dept. of Health, “Silica sand is toxic.” It causes silicosis, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney cancer, liver cancer and immune system problems—many of which are irreversible.

6.    If you drink water…………………….Polluted Water and Dried-Up Wells

Our region sits atop a porous geological formation called “karst” where underground water flows swiftly and unpredictably. Chemicals used to wash sand break down to create acrylamide—a neurotoxin linked to cancer and infertility. This washing also uses tremendous amounts of water, which can lower water levels enough to dry up nearby wells. This is already happening in Sparta, Wisconsin.

7.    If you’re an angler………………………..Damaged Fishing

We have some of the best trout streams in the state, if not the country. Trout fishing is a huge economic generator. To keep sand mining activity from raising the temperature of these streams, killing the fish, Minnesota Trout Unlimited wants it restricted to areas well above the water table and well away from trout streams.

8.    If you rely on tourism…………………..Decreased Tourism Revenues

Tourism in Southeast Minnesota generates nearly $800 million in gross sales, $40 million in sales taxes and nearly 13,000 jobs. Will people still come here if the frac sand mines do? Dr. Tracy Sides has visited our region for years to bicycle with friends. She said, “Bicyclists care about frac sand mining because degraded scenery undermines both cycling and tourism.”

9.    If you treasure animals and plants…………Irreversible Ecosystem Damage

Our bluffs are home to the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and host to a wide variety of rare species, which would be negatively impacted should frac sand mining be allowed to disturb their delicate habitats and ecosystems.

10.    If you love the Blufflands…………………..Lost Heritage and Landscape

Who wants our magnificent blufftops to be flattened? Who wants the heritage of our area— going back to settlement days of the 1850s—with its multi-generational family farm traditions, to be compromised in any way? In Wisconsin, already 10,000 acres of farm land have been made non-productive for the foreseeable future. Could anything be worth giving up our way of life and our land traditions?

11.    If you believe in fairness…………………..You’ll Pay for Others’ “Rights”

Some say, “It’s my land and I have the right to do whatever I want with it.” Should someone have the “right” to lower their neighbors’ property values, expose children to lung diseases, dry up wells? Should they have the “right” to chase away the tourists many depend upon for a living? Should they have the “right” to wreck our roads we all use and poison our water we all drink—then expect the rest of us to pay to fix the unfixable?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Will you sign this petition?

Subject: President Obama: Ban Fracking on Public Lands


I signed a petition to Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior and President Barack Obama which says:

"I am calling for a ban on fracking on all federal lands.

This land is our land and should be managed for the good of the people, not corporate profits for the oil and gas industry.

The Bureau of Land Management's proposed rules for regulating hydraulic fracturing on Federal and Indian lands are not only weak, but they do not take into account all of the harmful processes required to frack for oil and gas.

The best way to protect our air, water, wildlife, climate and public health is simply to prohibit this inherently dangerous form of fossil fuel extraction on public lands."

Will you sign this petition? Click here:

A. Renee Bergstrom, Ed.D.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin: A One-Day Seminar Aug 1

Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin: A One-Day Seminar on Regulatory and Environmental Issues

Learn about the perspectives of the environmental, citizen, industry, town and county from a panel of experts. Following the event there will be a panel discussion with Q&A.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Land and Mining Rights Issues at the Commonweal, July 24

On Wednesday, July 24 at 7:30pm the Commonweal is hosting a staged reading of Robert Schenkkan’s The Kentucky Cycle. This is one in a series of 5 plays we are reading this season to continue the celebrations surrounding Season 25 at the Commonweal. The readings honor our love of great plays and allow us to further connect with our community.

 It is our hope that you will join us for the reading and that you will extend the invitation to your contact lists of individuals who share your commitment to and love of the region.

 The Kentucky Cycle is a series of nine one-act plays that explores American mythology through the intertwined histories of three fictional families struggling over a portion of land in the Cumberland Plateau. The stories span 200 years of American history from 1775 to 1975.

 We have chosen to read two of the nine episodes, Tall Tales and Fire in the Hole. The two stories focus on both land and mining right issues and hold a mirror up to our own situation, as we find ourselves caught between the land that we love and the mining companies bent on engaging in activity that will lead to its destruction.

 Again, it is our hope that you will invite as many people as you can whom you feel would benefit from the power of these stories.

Thank you. 
Jeremy van Meter
Communications Manager / Resident Ensemble Member
Commonweal Theatre Company
507.467.2905 ext. 211

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Mediums, crime-solvers, spirits, and villains. It's summer at the Commonweal with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure and Blithe Spirit.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Are you concerned about the destructive impacts of frac sand mining in southeast Minnesota?

Do you want to learn more about the Environmental Impact Statement beginning this summer on 11 proposed mines in Fillmore, Houston and Winona counties, and help make sure this study includes the impacts that are of greatest concern to you? Please join with others to make your voice heard.

Attend the Land Stewardship Project’s
People’s EIS Kickoff Meeting
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
6:30 pm-9:00 pm (registration & snacks at 6 pm)
Montini Hall at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church,

The event is free of charge, but if you plan to attend, please RSVP to Johanna Rupprecht at 507-523-3366 or

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is beginning this summer on 11 frac sand mines proposed in Fillmore, Houston and Winona counties by a company formed in 2012 known as Minnesota Sands. Under Minnesota state law, an EIS is intended to be a comprehensive study of the environmental impacts of a proposed project, along with its economic, employment and sociological impacts. It is much more in-depth than the brief Environmental Assessment Worksheets (EAWs) that have so far been done on parts of this proposed mining project (see below).
This EIS will be carried out by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB), a Minnesota state agency. The entire process will likely take a year or more, and the EQB is now in the very earliest stages, just beginning to set the scope of the study. EQB staff have met with Minnesota Sands’ representatives, but they have not yet heard from the people whose lives, homes and communities would be affected by these proposed mines.

We must speak up now to make sure the scope of the EIS includes all of the many concerns local people have about the destructive impacts of frac sand mining. 

This industry exists to benefit corporate oil and gas interests while threatening our health, safety, quality of life, air, water, farmland, wildlife habitat, trout streams, roads and bridges, property values, tourism and recreation, local economies, and more.
At the People’s EIS Kickoff Meeting, you will learn more about how an EIS works and how to be involved throughout the process. Most importantly, you will have the chance to share your concerns about the impacts of this proposed mining project on your home community and our broader region, and hear the concerns of neighbors in other affected communities. This input will be compiled into a report to be presented to the EQB to make sure the voices of local citizens are heard from the very beginning of the EIS process.

Did you submit a comment in February on the EAWs on the Yoder and Dabelstein mines?

When two of Minnesota Sands’ proposed mines (the Yoder and Dabelstein mines in Saratoga Township, Winona County) went through the EAW process this winter, the county received 75 comments from local citizens, state agencies and other experts overwhelmingly calling for an in-depth EIS. If you are one of those who commented, bring the issues you raised at that time to the People’s EIS Kickoff Meeting on July 9. If not, come anyway to share the concerns you have about the proposed mines in: Saratoga Township; Pilot Mound Township, Fillmore County; and Yucatan and Houston townships, Houston County. This proposed project would also have direct impacts on residents in a much broader area; the truck hauling routes and final sand processing destinations have yet to be disclosed for most of the mines.

If you have questions or to RSVP, contact LSP's Johanna Rupprecht at 507-523-3366 or

Did you submit a comment in February on the EAWs on the Yoder and Dabelstein mines?

When two of Minnesota Sands’ proposed mines (the Yoder and Dabelstein mines in Saratoga Township, Winona County) went through the EAW process this winter, the county received 75 comments from local citizens, state agencies and other experts overwhelmingly calling for an in-depth EIS. If you are one of those who commented, bring the issues you raised at that time to the People’s EIS Kickoff Meeting on July 9. If not, come anyway to share the concerns you have about the proposed mines in: Saratoga Township; Pilot Mound Township, Fillmore County; and Yucatan and Houston townships, Houston County. This proposed project would also have direct impacts on residents in a much broader area; the truck hauling routes and final sand processing destinations have yet to be disclosed for most of the mines.

If you have questions or to RSVP, contact LSP's Johanna Rupprecht at 507-523-3366 or

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EIS on 11 proposed frac sand mines

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

  An Environmental Impact Statement on 11 proposed frac sand mines in Fillmore, Houston, and Winona counties is beginning this summer, led by the Environmental Quality Board (a MN state agency). 
  You are invited to a Land Stewardship Project event to help make sure this study starts off right, and the scope includes all of the many concerns local people have about the impacts of this destructive industry.
  Come to learn more, share your concerns, and get involved.
 Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 6:30-9:00 pm (registration 6:00)
  Montini Hall at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Rushford, MN
  Participation by each of us is important in the EIS process.

  Details will be coming from Land Stewardship Project, Johanna Rupprecht  (507-523-3366) or

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

“The Price of Sand”, a documentary film about frac sand mining

“The Price of Sand” is a documentary about the frac sand mining boom in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Due to a rapid increase in demand, pure silica sand has become a valuable commodity, and mines are opening here at a rapid rate.
The silica used in hydraulic fracturing (aka : “fracking”), has other uses– glass manufacturing and toothpaste, for instance — and a few established mines have been in operation here for decades. But now, new companies have arrived, and land with accessible silica deposits is selling for high prices.
In addition to a bonanza for a few lucky landowners, the new mines promise jobs and economic stimulus for the small towns and rural areas nearby.
The Film
Two years ago, an oil company bought a tract of land in near my mother’s house, in rural Goodhue County, Minnesota. The prospect of an open pit mine led to the formation of an opposition group, a series of public meetings, and a temporary county moratorium on frac sand mining.
I’m a filmmaker, so I visited people who live near existing mines and interviewed them. They told me stories–intense truck traffic, plummeting property values, toxic silica dust–a catalog of complaints that surprised me with its variety and intensity. I made clips from the interviews and posted them on YouTube.
YouTube shorts can provoke discussion (56,000 views so far), but the story of this mining boom is more complex.  Good people are on both sides of the issue, and sometimes the facts aren’t obvious.  “The Price of Sand” is a 1-hour documentary film that grew out of my short YouTube video project–more extensive, with new stories–a more comprehensive look at what’s happening.
The goal of this project:   find the real price of frac sand.  Not just in dollars, but in friendships, communities and the future of our region.
Jim Tittle • St. Paul, MN • director

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Good news (in other places)

  We can continue to inform ourselves and others.
Wishing you well,
  • Mora County, NM has banned fracking
  • The state of Vermont  has banned fracking
  • Florence Township in Goodhue County has banned frac sand mining
  • Hay Creek Township in Goodhue County has banned "large scale mining" and "mineral processing"
  • I'm told the city of Caledonia has banned nude dancing in bars (well, you said anything, right? And, this is in Houston County)
Below is a long list of bans and moratoriums on fracking: You'll need to go through them to separate "bans" from "moratoriums". But, these are just a few resources I came up with after searching around this morning:

REALLY GOOD SUMMARY of towns/states/countries:

  • The State of Vermont
  • May 17, 2012: Vermont became the first state to ban the controversial natural gas drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Governor Peter Shumlin signed the ban into law Wednesday afternoon.
  • New Jersey, NJ
  • May 17, 2012: TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Legislature has accepted Gov. Chris Christie’s recommendation for a one-year ban on a natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, rather than continue to pursue a permanent ban.
  • June 30, 2012 New Jersey Legislature Bans All Fracking Waste Mindful of a court ruling in 1978 striking down a law they passed banning waste disposal from other states, New Jersey legislators this week passed a new law banning all disposal of fracking wastewater within its borders, even if the waste water is produced within New Jersey. The new law is aimed at prohibiting shipment of 1.3 billion gallons of fracking waste water already generated in neighboring Pennsylvania from being shipped into New Jersey for deep well injection.
  • July 15, 2012  Secaucus, NJ -  bans ‘fracking’ (Local officials also call for statewide and national ban.) The mayor and Town Council banned fracking and fracking waste water in Secaucus at the June 26 council meeting in a resolution that states that the drilling process causes environmental hazards.
  • Pittsburgh, Pa
  • November 16, 2010: In a historic vote, the City of Pittsburgh today adopted a first-in-the-nation ordinance banning corporations from natural gas drilling in the city (Pittsburgh is finding it difficult to enact the ban because of ‘variances’ issued by the State’s Public Utilities Commission overruling their decisions) 
  • Morgantown, WV
  • June 6th 2011: Morgantown City Council went ahead on Tuesday evening with its proposed ban on fracking concerning the drilling of Marcellus Shale. The council approved the first reading of the ordinance which would prohibit fracking in the city and within one mile of the city limits as well. 
  • 15th August 2011: On Friday, Monongalia County Judge Susan Tucker ruled Morgantown’s ordinance to be invalid, clearing the way for Northeast to resume drilling. In the court’s opinion, Tucker said the state had exclusive control of regulation. Tucker also noted strides made by the state to implement comprehensive rules for drilling.
  • Syracuse, N.Y.
  • October 24, 2011: SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse common councilors ban hydrofracking in the city.
  • North Carolina, RALEIGH 1st July 2012-- Governor Bev Perdue vetoed the controversial fracking bill Sunday, the last day she had to act before it would have become law.The governor said she supports hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” but believes additional safeguards are needed in the bill. Without those safeguards in place to protect drinking water and the health of North Carolina families, Perdue said she was forced to veto the bill.
  • New York State
Woodstock enacts ban on hydrofracking – Jul 22, 2012
The Town Board on July 17 delivered the first blow of a proposed two-punch combination aimed at banning hydrofracking in Woodstock, unanimously adopting a zoning amendment that prohibits the controversial natural-gas extraction method and related activities within the town’s borders.
  • By a vote of 5-1-1, Village of Owego passed a 1-year moratorium – 31st July 2012 
Animated film of bans, moratoriums and groups in New York State
• Two legislative bills on hydrofrack drilling were considered by the legislature. The Assembly passed an extension of the current moratorium through June of 2012. The Senate did not act on a parallel bill and the issue is closed for the present.
• NYS Executive Order calling for a drilling moratorium by former Governor Paterson has been affirmed by Governor Cuomo.
• Yates County resolution unanimously passed calls for similar protection treatment of their watershed as that in NYC and Syracuse watersheds.
• The Town of Jerusalem (Yates) enacted a moratorium ordinance for their entire township. The one-year moratorium begins when the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) relating to the extraction of natural gas by the process of high-volume hydraulic fracturing now under review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is finalized.
• The Town of Milo is drawing up a moratorium statement for board action.
• Dewitt, Tully, Marcellus and Skaneateles have enacted moratoria laws.
• Highland, (Sullivan Co) is developing a moratorium statement.
• Buffalo has banned hydrofrack drilling and wastewater disposal in their city.
• Sullivan County is the first county in New York State to enact a moratorium.
• Lumberland (Sullivan Co) is considering a moratorium statement.
• Town of Ulysses is establishing “industrial zones” attempting to restrict the negative impact of drilling in their water supply.
• Tompkins County has enacted a ban on fracking on county land.
• Broome County: Ban on hydrofracking on county lands. Waste restrictions for fracking cuttings and flow back water established.
• Ontario, Sullivan and Onondaga Counties have enacted bans on fracking on county owned land.
• Ulster County has banned hydrofrack drilling on county owned lands.
• Gorham in Ontario County enacted a moratorium ordinance.
• The towns that ring Cooperstown’s reservoir, Otsego Lake — Middlefield, Otsego, Butternuts, and Cherry Valley — are moving to ban or restrict natural gas drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.
• Springfield has adopted local laws prohibiting heavy industry, including gas drilling.
• The Medical Society of the State of New York has gone on record supporting a moratorium on gas drilling using high volume hydraulic fracturing.
• Cooperstown’s Chamber of Commerce has issued a position statement supporting a total ban on fracking due to the impact it will make on their watershed, farming and tourism.
• A group of residents have launched a petition drive designed to ban the use of high-volume, slick water hydraulic fracturing in the Town of Caroline, Tompkins County.
• The Village of Penn Yan will not accept any hydrofracking wastewater for processing at the village wastewater treatment plant.
• New York City has called on the US Congress to remove hydrofrack drilling’s exemption from the Safe Water Drinking Act.
• The Skaneateles Town Board has initiated plans for a ban in their township.
• The Otsego County Planning Board approved changes to Middlefield’s master plan and zoning law that would specifically prohibit heavy industry, including gas and oil drilling.
• The Board of Trustees of Bassett Medical Center, based in Cooperstown, New York, views the issue of hydrofracking as a public health issue of the highest priorityand resolves that the hydrofracking method of gas drilling constitutes an unacceptable threat to the health of patients, and should be prohibited until such time as it is proven to be safe.
• A consortium of interested citizens is planning for a unified moratorium and eventual ban of hydrofrack drilling in the entire Keuka Lake watershed region. To date the towns of Barrington, Milo and Jerusalem have adopted ordinances on a moratorium. Wayne has prepared a resolution for consideration.
• Lebanon town board members adopted a memorializing resolution that calls on the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo to repeal and reform compulsory integration laws in the State of New York that currently govern natural gas development.
• A petition drive has resulted in the Dryden Town Board unanimously passing a resolution to move forward with an ordinance to ban fracking.
• The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Inc. has sued the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New York State Supreme Court to declare High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State Forests contrary to the New York State Constitution and applicable environmental laws.
• The Otsego Town Board clarified a long-standing prohibition against heavy industry, including fracking for natural gas, in the town’s land use law. By this vote the town, which includes most of the Village of Cooperstown, reaffirmed its home rule right to prohibit drilling through local ordinance. They also approved revisions to its land-use law that strengthen a ban on gas drilling and hydrofracking within the town. The law now specifies that while the removal of gravel, rock, stone, sand, fill, topsoil or “unconsolidated” minerals has been allowed, extraction of natural gas and petroleum is not permitted.
• The Common Council of Oneonta voted to ban all forms of natural gas drilling in city limits.
• The Town of Wales adopted a community rights ordinance that bans “fracking.” The ordinance establishes a Bill of Rights for Wales residents and “recognizes and secures certain civil and political rights of the residents to govern themselves and protect themselves from harm to their persons, property and environment.”
• The exploration of land for natural gas by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is prohibited in the Town of Camillus.
• Brighton became the first municipality in Monroe County to take a position on hydrofrack drilling calling for a state-wide moratorium.
• Kirkland has adopted a one-year moratorium on hydrofracking.
• New Hartford has adopted a six-month moratorium on hydrofrack drilling for natural gas
•   October 24, 2011: SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse common councilors ban hydrofracking in the city.
August 14th 2012 Saint Johnsville Village, NY, USA unanimously passed a one year moratorium on hydrofracking and its related activities.
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Feb 8, 2011 6: The city of Buffalo, New York, banned the natural gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing on Tuesday, a largely symbolic vote that demonstrates concern about potential harm to groundwater from mining an abundant energy source.The city council voted 9-0 to prohibit natural gas extraction including the process known as “fracking” in which chemicals, sand and water are blasted deep into the earth.
  • Albany, NY (Capitol of NYS) banned hydraulic fracturing within the city limits of the City of Albany in May, 2012. Mayor Jennings didn’t veto it.
  • Sept 2012 The Rochester Town Board voted to ban hydraulic fracturing at its August 30 meeting, to the applause of a town hall packed with residents eager for the decision. Although passing the ban was one of the first things the board did that evening, celebrants were still toasting with champagne in the town hall parking lot when the meeting adjourned over an hour later.
  • The town joins an estimated 35 that have passed an outright ban on the controversial gas-mining practice in the state. A hundred other municipalities have moratoria in place while they study the issue, and 60 more have passed resolutions either in support of the practice, or opposing a statewide ban. Governor Cuomo is expected to announce a decision on whether it will be permitted in New York State or not in the very near future.
In February, the legislature passed Act 13, which eliminated local zoning for natural gas operations, which include drilling, compressor stations and pipelines. Passed with support of Republican lawmakers from the Southeast, Act 13 was hailed by the governor, lawmakers and the natural gas industry as crucial because it provided uniformity and consistency for developing shale gas drilling policy.
Effectively, this has deprived all the communities from having any power to protect themeselves from the rape of their land, posioning of their water, and harm to people, animals and crops.
  •  Pittsburgh adopts the first-in-the-nation community rights ordinance which elevates the right of the community to decide, and the rights of nature over the “rights” associated with corporate personhood. The City Council unanimously adopted this ordinance banning corporations from conducting natural gas drilling in the city.
  • •Lehman Township in Luzerne County PA NEVER passed a moratorium or ban, the township supervisors voted down CELDF ordinance to protect and  preserve township land and water.
  • The Board of Supervisors for Licking Township, Clarion County, PA, voted unanimously on Wednesday to adopt an ordinance banning corporations from dumping “fracking” waste water in the township. The Licking Township Community Water Rights and Self-Government Ordinance is the first ordinance of its kind adopted in Pennsylvania to confront the threat of Marcellus Shale drilling.
  • Cresson has enacted legislation banning fracking.
  • Washington Township has banned fracking.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania City Council unanimously passed the pro-moratorium Resolution on Marcellus Shale Drilling Environmental and Economic Impacts.
  • The Borough Council of West Homestead, Pennsylvania, unanimously adopted an ordinance that enacts a Local Bill of Rights, along with a prohibition on natural gas extraction to protect those rights. The bill, titled “West Homestead Borough’s Community Protection from Natural Gas Extraction Ordinance; establishes specific rights of West Homestead residents, including the Right to Water, the Rights of Natural Communities, the Right to a Sustainable Energy Future, and the Right to Community Self-Government.
  • Philadelphia refuses to purchase Marcellus Shale gas as the dumping of flow back waters is polluting their water supply.
  • Collier Township upgraded its natural gas drilling ordinance to enhance their Marcellus Shale ordinance that would push drillers farther away from schools and provide baseline measurements for noise levels at drilling sites.
  • United Methodists representing 950 churches across central and Northeast Pennsylvania passed a resolution calling for a temporary halt in gas well drilling in the Marcellus Shale as well as an impact tax on those places where drilling already has taken hold.
  • Religious groups such as the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia have advocated against fracking and in April, 2011, America, the national magazine of the Jesuits editorialized very critically about the process.
  •  Baldwin Borough Council adopted a community rights ordinance that bans the corporate extraction of natural gas.
  • 30th June 2012 Legislators Pass Moratorium on Gas Drilling in Bucks, MontCo The provision was attached to a state budget measure which lawmakers approved late Saturday night. Companies that want to drill for natural gas in Bucks or Montgomery counties will have to wait. State lawmakers on Saturday night approved a moratorium on gas drilling in Bucks, MontCo and parts of Lehigh, Berks and Chester counties. The moratorium will affect any oil or gas operations in the South Newark Basin, which underlies a swath of territory extending from Bucks through MontCo and into Berks County.
• A class-action lawsuit has been filed against companies that drill for natural gas in central Arkansas. The suit is asking for millions of dollars in relation to the earthquakes associated with the fracking process the companies use. The damages enumerated in the suit are property damage, loss of fair market value in real estate, emotional distress, and damages related to the purchase of earthquake insurance.
  • Arkansas has a ban on 4 out of more than 500 frack fluid waste-water injection wells because of their 4.7/9 earthquake.
• The first community in Maryland, Mountain Lake Park, adopted an ordinance banning corporations from natural gas drilling.
• Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has sent a letter to Chesapeake Energy Corporation and its affiliates, notifying the companies of the State of Maryland’s intent to sue for violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA).
• Governor Martin O’Malleyhas signed an executive order for a three year moratorium on drilling in MD while studies continue.
New Jersey
• The New Jersey Assembly voted to ban hydraulic fracturing in NJ in a bipartisan overwhelming vote (58 to 11, 8 abstained), following the landslide vote 32-1 earlier in the day by the NJ Senate. New Jersey is the first state legislature to ban fracking.
• 22nd August 2012: Wellsburg City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting natural gas drilling in or within one mile of the city as concerns mounted about the city’s water being contaminated by procedures in hydrofrack drilling. A reservoir serving the city is beside property that Chesapeake Energy is leasing for drilling.
A pair of proposed deep brine injection wells in Weathersfield Township got the attention of residents and trustees. Now, opposition is growing next door in Niles. “The property’s adjacent right to Niles, also it’s five blocks from downtown so we’re very concerned,” Niles Mayor Ralph Infante said. Niles joined Weathersfield Township trustees on Wednesday, passing a resolution to ban all injection wells in the city and township. That includes the proposed site off state Route 169 next to Niles Commerce Park.
  • 28th August 2012 - Jefferson twp in Crawford county passed an extraction and injection well resolution banning fracking activity in the township
• George Washington National Forest has disallowed horizontal drilling for natural gas within its 1.1 million acres of territory while opening up segments of the forest to the potential for wind energy construction.
• Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed a bill requiring drillers to publicly disclose the chemicals they use when extracting oil and gas from dense rock formations, the first state to pass such a law.
  • Moratorium in the city of Grand Prairie, TX (a suburb of Dallas) until January 2013 on drilling activities within 3,000 feet of water retention structures. It’s been called potentially catastrophic by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Chesapeake and XTO placed the community in jeopardy by already drilling and fracking in very close proximity to the local Joe Pool Dam. Right hand did not know what the left was doing….it’s a mess.
West Virginia
• Wellsville has banned fracking.
• Lewisburg has banned fracking within their city limits.
• Morgantown banned fracking in the city and within one mile of the city limits as well.
8 April 2012: Kaikoura District Council voted 6 to 2 to declare itself a frack-free zone (NZ). It will be revisited after the independent investigation by Dr Jan Wright of the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment (PCE) due out at the end of the year. This resolution followed a request in February for a moratorium from Central Government until the study but that was denied.


Join us as we attend a talk presented by Crispin Pierce, PhD, Professor of Environmental Public Health at UW-Eau Claire.

More info....

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 11 - FILM: The Price of Sand

Tuesday, the Winona County Board approved the first frac sand mine in the County!

It's even more important to see "The Price of Sand."


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Gov. Dayton still needs to hear from us to give the provisions strength.

Take Action! 
The test of the provisions will be, “Do they make a difference on the ground?” That will depend on how aggressively the Dayton administration implements and enforces these laws. We will be pushing for the DNR, MPCA and Environmental Quality Board to use this new authority to put the well-being of rural communities before profits for the outside investors driving the frac sand industry. 

1. Contact Governor Mark Dayton at 651-201-3400 or 800-657-3717, or e-mail him HERE.
Suggested message: “I was disappointed that in the end you did not support a hard setback of a mile from trout streams for frac sand mines. These most sensitive areas of southeast Minnesota should have been clearly put off limits to the frac sand industry. We know from looking at western Wisconsin that without strong regulation the frac sand industry will pollute our air and water, destroy our roads and harm the local economy. The Legislature has now given the MPCA, DNR and Environmental Quality Board new authority to control the frac sand industry. I am calling on you to direct these state agencies to adopt strong controls that put the well-being of the community before corporate profits for the frac sand industry. I want you to make it clear that the DNR’s policy should be that issuing “trout stream setback” permits for frac sand should happen rarely, if ever. Also, the MPCA needs to establish an enforceable air quality standard for silica dust at frac sand facilities. This needs to be monitored at the property line and if exceeded, the operation needs to be shut down until it can comply. Long-term exposure to silica can cause serious health problems, including silicosis.”

2. Thank Sen. Matt  Schmit via e-mail at or by writing him at 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Capitol, Room G-24, St. Paul, MN 55155-1606. 
Let Sen. Schmit know you appreciate that he stood with us and fought to the end even when that meant standing up to powerful special interests and some Senate leaders. The bills he authored gave us the opportunity to fully address the scope of the problem, to show the depth of local opposition to the frac sand industry and what a comprehensive state level solution would look like.

For more information on this issue, contact LSP's Bobby King at 612-722-6377 or

Provisions pass that can make a difference if implemented aggressively by the Dayton administration.

Wrap-up & Action to Take on MN State Legislation to
Control Corporate Frac Sand Interests
We Fell Short on our Legislative Goals but Important Progress was Made 

During the recently adjourned session of the Minnesota Legislature, frac sand provisions were passed and signed into law, but they did not include a moratorium or a hard setback from trout streams. The provisions were part of the Omnibus Environment and Agriculture Finance bill signed by Governor Mark Dayton this week.The Senate floor vote on a setback from trout streams for frac sand mines ultimately did not happen. Before the vote could happen, Gov. Dayton met with industry representatives and withdrew support for a hard setback of a mile. After that, legislative leaders, industry representatives and state agency representatives developed provisions short of that, which were eventually added into the omnibus bill. (Details on those provisions are below.)

We called for legislation that put rural communities before corporate profits. We started the legislative session calling for a comprehensive approach to the threat the frac sand industry poses to southeast Minnesota. We called for an in-depth study that would be used to establish strong state-level regulations and appropriate fees and taxes. We wanted a moratorium to be in place while the study was being conducted and regulations adopted. This approach would also keep local control strong, allowing local government to keep their right to set stronger controls if they felt they were necessary

We had a big impact at the Capitol. LSP members and others packed hearing rooms. At the first three hearings, the rooms were filled to capacity with more supporters in overflow rooms. Literally busloads of southeast Minnesotans and others were at the Capitol to demand strong action. We garnered front page coverage in the Star Tribune, the Winona Daily News, the Winona Post, Red Wing Republican Eagle, the Rochester Post-Bulletin and many other papers time and time again. The Winona Daily News and Star Tribune weighed in with editorials in favor of what we were working for. Dozens of letters to the editors from around the region were published. 

The movement to control frac sand mining was strengthened. Local activists from around southeast Minnesota came together time and time again and made deeper connections on bus rides to the Capitol. The Land Stewardship Project, Save the Bluffs, Houston County Protectors, Winona Area Citizens Concerned About Silica Mining, Minnesota Trout Unlimited, Friends of Wabasha, Audubon Minnesota and others worked as an effective and unified coalition. The new documentary The Price of Sand was shown to crowds who moved from education to action.

Sen. Matt Schmit of Red Wing took up this cause with us. Sen. Schmit authored legislation that put a comprehensive approach forward, incorporating all the elements of what we wanted. Sen. Schmit pushed to the end to get as much passed as possible. Without his leadership, it is likely that no meaningful legislation would have passed. All the other legislators from the heart of southeast Minnesota — Sen. Jeremy Miller (Winona), Rep. Greg Davids (Preston), Rep. Gene Pelowski (Winona), Rep. Tim Kelly (Red Wing), and Rep. Steve Drazkowski (Mazeppa) — all sided with frac sand interests in opposing a moratorium, and none proposed any meaningful legislation on the issue.

Provisions pass that can make a difference if implemented aggressively by the Dayton administration. In the end, we did not win the comprehensive approach that was necessary to fully protect southeast Minnesota. Here is a summary of the most important pieces that did pass and how they could be helpful if aggressively implemented:
  • In southeast Minnesota, frac sand mines within a mile of a trout stream are prohibited unless granted a “trout stream setback permit” from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR Commissioner testified at the legislature that a mile setback is necessary to protect trout streams. We need the DNR to be consistent and deny these permits.
  • Local governments can now extend moratoriums on frac sand facilities until March 2015 regardless of how long moratoriums have already been in place. State law limited local moratoriums to two years at most and some local governments are approaching this limit..
  • The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) must create rules to address silica dust from frac sand projects. We need the MPCA to use this authority to set an ambient air quality standard this is enforceable at the property line of the frac sand facility.
  • The DNR must create rules for reclamation of frac sand mines. Among other things, this must include posting a bond so that frac sand companies that go out of business or go bankrupt don’t shift this reclamation cost onto the public.
  • For two years, the threshold for environmental review for frac sand mines is lowered from 40 acres to 20 acres and the environmental review requires studies dealing with water quality and quantity, air quality and traffic impacts.  
  • During this two-year period, the Environmental Quality Board must update its environmental review rules to better address the frac sand industry. We need to ensure that, among other things, the new rules set strict standards on cumulative impacts and defining as one project multiple mines that will be operated or managed by the same owners.

All the provisions that passed in the bill can be found HERE. If you have other ideas about how these should be implemented or how they can help on the ground let us know.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

speak to Governor Dayton directly

An opportunity to speak to Governor Dayton directly. We can share rides.  
Please let me know if you can go.  507/467-2157
Wishing you well,
On Apr 26, 2013, at 1:02 PM, wrote:
Hi. I just heard from Bobby King. On Gov. Dayton's website he is slated to have a public meeting on Monday, April 29 More...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chair (Tomassoni ?) said that they have mining up north, and the trout fishing is fine.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

  In yesterday's hearing, after testimony from DNR Commissioner Landwehr about how valuable our trout streams are and the need to protect them with a set-back for sand mines, the Chair (Tomassoni ?) said that they have mining up north, and the trout fishing is fine.

 We continue to have opportunities to speak for what we value.

Please call Governor Dayton today and be sure to mention that you want him to "Use his executive authority to enact a moratorium to protect the Department of Natural Resources Paleozoic Plateau Ecological Section."   

He has the authority to do this for a geological region but not a political region. He can do this.

His number is 1-800-657-3717

Sen. Matt Schmit's bill SF  796 sections 50 and 51 were defeated yesterday, with even some dems--Tomassini, Saxhaug and Sparks.

Section 50 covered the 1 mile setback from trout streams, springs, fens and class 2a water. Again, this is within the DNR Paleozoic Plateau Ecological Section. Section 51 dealt with no DNR water use permits within the Dept. of Natural Resources Paleozoic Plateau Ecological Section in connection with frac sand mining or processing. Also, Within the areas of the Paleozoic Plateau Ecological Section no mining, etc. within 25 feet of our water table.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No EIS for Rein

Aren't we lucky to live in a county where our commissioners are so far-sighted? They believe, because oversight is so important they fund it generously, they'll be able to monitor Rein and make sure he's being a good frac sand miner (how's that for a resume entry?). How cool is that?!

- not Bonita

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Action Needed to Support Senate Bill

Action Needed to Support Senate Bill that Protects Southeast MN Trout Streams from Frac Sand Mining  
Bill to be heard as early as Wednesday, April 24, in Senate Environment Finance Committee
Working with Minnesota Trout Unlimited, Sen. Matt Schmit has included language in Senate File 796 protecting southeast Minnesota trout streams from frac sand mining and processing. SF 796 is the Omnibus Game and Fish Policy Bill and Sen. Schmit is the author. The provisions in the bill say that in southeast Minnesota:
  • No frac sand mining is allowed within a mile of any spring, groundwater seepage area, fen, designated trout stream, class 2a water or any tributary of class 2a water or designate trout stream.
  • The DNR cannot issue groundwater appropriation permits for frac sand-related activity, including frac sand processing.
  • Mining frac sand within 25 feet of the water table is prohibited.
The bill applies these provisions in an area defined by the DNR as the Paleozoic Plateau (222) Ecological Section. This area generally encompasses Minnesota's five southeast counties. A detailed map is on the DNR’s website HERE.   

These provisions protecting trout streams would help dramatically in limiting the harm frac sand mining can do in southeast Minnesota and would go into effect immediately. As reported in a Rochester Post-Bulletin article, Gov. Mark Dayton has weighed in against supporting a moratorium at this time. Without a moratorium, we need standards in place NOW before any more frac sand mines or processing facilities are established in southeast Minnesota. The provisions in Senate File 796 are a good step in that direction.

TAKE ACTION! Senate File 796's next stop will be in the Senate Environment and Agriculture Finance Committee. It will likely be heard Wednesday, April 24, at noon in Room 107 of the Capitol. If you plan to attend the hearing, please e-mail me at

1.  Call or e-mail members of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Finance Committee and urge them to support these critical provisions protecting trout streams in southeast Minnesota from frac sand mining.
Here is a suggested message for the committee members: “I live in southeast Minnesota. As a member of the Environment and Ag Finance Committee, you will soon be hearing Senate File 796, the Omnibus Game and Fish Policy Bill. This bill has important provisions to protect southeast Minnesota’s trout streams from frac sand mining and processing. The karst topography in southeast Minnesota creates conditions for cold streams and some of the best trout fishing in the country. However, it also allows for these streams to be easily polluted. The state has invested millions in maintaining these trout streams and trout fishing is an important economic industry in our area. Sen. Matt Schmit has included provisions in the bill for southeast Minnesota that prohibit frac sand mining activity within a mile of sensitive trout streams, prohibit groundwater from being used for frac sand mining and processing, and prohibit frac sand mining within 25 feet of the water table. These are common-sense provision needed to protect southeast Minnesota’s trout streams. Please support these provisions and oppose attempts to remove them from the bill.”
Members of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Finance Committee:
2.  Call Governor Dayton at 651-201-3400 or 800-657-3717 or e-mail him HERE.
Here is a suggested message for Gov. Dayton:  “I live in southeast Minnesota and am very concerned about the harm the frac sand industry poses to my community. I was disappointed when you said that you do not support a moratorium on frac sand mining at this time. I believe it is critical that we get strong state standards in place before this industry pollutes the air and water and destroys roads in southeast Minnesota like it has in western Wisconsin. I believe it makes sense to have a moratorium while those state standards are created. However, without a moratorium we must have strong standards for southeast Minnesota now. Sen. Matt Schmit has included provisions in Senate File 796 for southeast Minnesota that prohibit frac sand mining activity within a mile of sensitive trout streams, prohibit groundwater from being used for frac sand mining and processing, and prohibit frac sand mining within 25 feet of the water table. While more is ultimately needed, these standards are a good start and I would like you to publicly support them and work for their passage. Without a moratorium we need standards like this in place now."

Update on other key frac sand bills. Both the Senate and House Omnibus Environment and Agriculture Finance Bills contain frac sand provisions. Senate File 1607 and House File 976 have both passed off the Senate and House floors. They are now headed for a conference committee to have the differences reconciled. The conference committee members have not yet been named. As soon as this happens, look for an LSP action alert.
SF 1607 has the stronger frac sand provisions. The following provisions are only in SF 1607:
  • For one year from passage of bill, all frac sand mines that will be over 20 acres in size and at least 10 feet deep require an environmental assessment worksheet.
  • The Environmental Quality Board must amend the environmental review rules for frac sand facilities to take into account increased activity and concerns over the size of specific operations.
  • Local governments can extend local moratoriums to March 1, 2015, no matter how long they have already been in place.  
Both bills contain provisions that require the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to adopt rules for the control of particulate emissions from frac sand mines, the Minnesota DNR to adopt rules for reclamation of frac sand mines, and for the Minnesota Department of Health to adopt air quality standards. Both require that state agencies create a technical team to help local government and to create model ordinances for local governments to use.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Decision on Need for EIS for Rein

The Draft Findings of Fact & Conclusions Re: Decision on Need for EIS for Rein's is on the Fillmore County Zoning website. 

This is dated to be presented at Tuesday's (April 23) Commissioners' Meeting 9:00 am, Preston Courthouse.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gov Dayton is doing another public meeting

   Meeting with Mark

Monday, April 22 at 6:00pmAlbert Lea High School Auditorium
2000 Tiger Lane
Albert Lea, Minn.

Gov Dayton is doing another public meeting like the one he did Rochester in Albert Lea.

  It would be good to have a group there to ask him to support the language in SF- 796 creating setback from trout streams, no mining within 25 feet of water table and no water appropriations for southeast Minnesota and for strong STATE action in general.

  At his meeting in Mankato last week there were a crowd of employees from Jordan Sands who spoke against raising taxes on the frac sand and against a moratorium 

  Dayton only talked about support “for ways to help local governments make responsible decisions.”  He needs to know we want MUCH more than that.   

  Reply if you can. It would be good to have at least 10 people there.