By Dave Collins
It was only a matter of time before a mad rush to mine Frac Sand followed the rivers to our area. Now, pressure is being applied to allow mining in Bridgeport, Scott, and Marietta townships. Let's acknowledge that the county can benefit from the end product, gas. It really becomes a balance act between national and local interest.
I don't believe that mining can be stopped in Wisconsin. The state and counties lack the authority, and will to do so. However, there is regulating power vested in the townships. Perhaps not to stop mining, but to ensure it is monitored and regulated tightly.
The concerns of those who oppose frac sand mining include the safety of our health and environment. The dust from sand mining can cause silicosis, a fatal condition. The chemicals used to force gas out of fractured rocks could leak into water tables, although not in this area. The processing of sand in Clayton County Iowa raises another concern for water tables. Then, there is the question of insuring that money is set aside to reclaim the land, so that our area doesn't look like a war zone when mining is finished. These mining operations might not be limited to the type of rock quarries that we are use to, but could be huge open strip mining operations. In my opinion, the reclaiming effort should go beyond placing a berm in front of the quarry to prevent runoff as is proposed in Grant County.
People fall into three main groups on this issue, those who will make money, those who don't care one way or the other, and those, a minority, who are in active opposition to mining on public safety and environmental grounds.
If you would like to become involved you might like to view a video overview that Midwest News recorded on June 23, 2012 in Prairie du Chien called “Sand Fracking examined from all sides in local forum.”
The following is a list of local meetings coming up on this issue:
October 11, 2012 Wauzeka village hall, 213B E. Front Street, beginning at 5:00 p.m.
FRAC SAND MINING PROPOSAL TO BE AIRED AT RIVERWAY BOARD MEETING
[A] proposal by Pattison Sand Company of Iowa to establish a frac sand mining operation in the Town of Bridgeport, Crawford County.
October 10, 2012 at Town Hall in Mt. Zion at 7:00 p.m.
An informational meeting on proposed Ordinance to Impose a Moratorium on Mining within the Town of Scott.
October 22, 2012 Marietta Town Hall at 7 p.m. - Special Meeting
Discussion of Frac Sand Mining, for consideration of Village Powers and a six month moratorium.
Natural gas fracking is lucurative, rapidly expanding industry, requiring a special silica sand found in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.
The frac sand industry creates jobs, employing geologists, engineers, electricians, welders, chemists, safety officers, managers, accountants, and truck-drivers. In addition, property owners can reap financial rewards.
On the downside, documented studies of sand mining reveal a negative impact on human health, living environment and wildlife.
The Frac Sand industry is knocking on the door of SW Wisconsin. Do you support it.? Take our survey on http://facebook.com/midwest.news