Silica Sand Mining
At a contentious meeting Tuesday, the Houston County Board voted 3-2 against adding a ban to the county’s mining ordinance, and against an ordinance that would regulate the industry, which supplies sand that’s used by oil and gas drillers for hydraulic fracturing.
Minnesota’s most southeastern county is moving toward banning silica sand mining.
The Houston County Board gave the ban preliminary approval by a 5-0 vote Wednesday and is expected to make it final on Tuesday.
Activists plan to mark Earth Day by delivering over 6,000 petition signatures to Gov. Mark Dayton calling for a two-year moratorium on silica sand mining in southeastern Minnesota.
A state board has extended the comment period on proposed standards for regulating Minnesota’s sand mining industry. The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board on Monday extended the comment period by two weeks, to Jan. 27. Speakers at the first public hearing on the proposed standards this month had asked the board to extend the 30-day public comment period. They said the holidays gave them too little time to prepare detailed written responses.
A state government panel is ready to get feedback on a new draft set of model standards for regulating the growing silica sand mining industry. An Environmental Quality Board subcommittee meets Wednesday to hear presentations from state agencies involved in preparing the draft standards, which were released Friday.
The Environmental Quality Board opens a series of public meetings in greater Minnesota on Friday to gather input on plans for a set of model standards for regulating the mining, processing and transportation of silica sand used by the oil and gas drilling industry for hydraulic fracturing.
Critics of silica sand mining had hoped the Minnesota Legislature would adopt aggressive statewide rules to protect people and the environment. What finally emerged from the just-finished session, however, was a compromise that still leaves much of the authority for deciding how and whether to regulate the industry up to local governments.