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Frac-Sand Mining
What is Frac-Sand Mining?
Removal of frac-sand from our region
News and Information
Letter: Speak Up About Impact of Sand Mines
Speak up people. Like the Lorax who speaks for the trees, concerned residents speak out for our health, property values and natural beauty of Juneau County…
Source: The Tomah Journal, Randy Hoeth, January 24, 2014
The Fracking Fracas
Jim Tittle admits he had never heard of frac sand mining until 2011 when an oil company bought a 150-acre cornfield next to his mother's property in rural Red Wing, Minn., for $2.6 million, many times its assessed value…
Source: The Door County Pulse, Jim Lundstrom, January 16, 2014
Minnesota's Frac-Sand Future, with Lessons from Wisconsin, Explored by Panel
More than 300 people packed a sanctuary in Mahtomedi on Tuesday evening to hear a panel discuss whether frac sand mining, the source of so much conflict in southeastern Minnesota, might also be coming to leafy, wealthy Washington County…
Source: MinnPost, Ron Meador, November 1, 2013
Frac-Sand Foes Say New Oversight Plan Offers Too Little, and May Be Too Late
I sat in on two long, public conversations about the future of frac sand in Minnesota on Tuesday, and came away with a sense that wherever this industry may be heading, the element of surprise is no longer working in its favor…
Source: MinnPost, Ron Meador, October 31, 2013
A Change We Didn’t See Coming: Hydraulic Fracturing and Sand Mining in Wisconsin
If someone had told me 10 years ago that the rural landscape just west of my home in Appleton would be stripped down and shipped to states throughout the country, I never would have believed it. In fact, no one here in Wisconsin could have imagined that there would ever be much industrial demand for the honey-colored Cambrian sandstones that crop out in a wide swath across the middle of the state…
Source: USC Blog, Marcia Bjomerud, Professor of Geology, Dept. of Geology, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, August 27, 2013
Bus Trip to Land of Frac-Sand Mining Provides Insight to 'New' Industry
It has often been said that seeing is believing. And a bus trip to the land of frac-sand mining in Chippewa County, Wis. last week made me a believer…
Source: The Decorah Newspapers, Lissa Blake, August 14, 2013
Frac Sand Mining Splits Wisconsin Communities
Town of Howard — Dotting much of western Wisconsin's rural landscape are new man-made tears in the hills where frac sand mining has exploded as a job creator and source of community tension. Now that mines have opened in communities such as the Town of Howard and New Auburn, the question of whether they are a good idea is far from decided…
Source: Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Michael Phillis, July 28, 2013
The Demand for Sand
Politics, geology and infrastructure suggest that Wisconsin’s frac sand boom will continue while Minnesota’s cools…
Source: Winona Daily News, Mary Juhl and Tesla RodriquezJuly 21, 2013
Interactive Map: Frac Sand Facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin
Minnesota and Wisconsin are four years into a sand mining boom. This map shows facilities that involve the mining, processing or transportation of frac sand. Sites that have permits to do such work and ones that are proposed are shown…
Source: Minneapolis Start Tribune, July 15, 2013
Frac-Sand Mining Boom Adds to Growing List of Fracking Dangers
Barely a day now goes by without further evidence of the harm of fracking…
Source: EcoWatch, Andy Rowell, July 15, 2013
Fracking Spawns A Sand Mining Boom
BULCHER — Along the Red River, under the grazing cattle and the oil pumps running like metronomes, lie vast deposits of sand…
Source: Dallas News, James Osborne, July 12, 2013
The Mines That Fracking Built, Part Two
Keith Fossen never expected to join a grassroots environmental group, let alone help organize one from the ground up. Fossen and his wife Amy Nelson live in rural Hay Creek Township located about 10 miles from the Mississippi River on the outskirts of Red Wing, Minnesota. Fossen is an entrepreneur and CEO of a business education services firm. For years, he agreed with other conservatives that environmental causes were bad for business. His tune began to change, however, as the frack-sand rush started knocking on his back door…
Source: TruthOut, Mike Ludwig, May 13, 2013
Letter to the Editor: Let's Get Honest About Frac Sand Mining in Houston County
After observing the Houston County Frac Sand Study Group for well over 20 hours, I can not recall a single time when anyone from our Planning and Zoning Board, county engineer, "industry consultant/ spokesperson for sand and gravel industry" has advanced a single argument in favor of restricting or regulating mining or protecting the health and safety of county residents…
Source: Spring Grove Herald, Bryan Van Gorp, May 1, 2013
The Mines That Fracking Built, Part One
The bluffs rise up gently from the rolling hills and farmlands of Wisconsin's Chippewa County. For years, the bluffs stood silent as small farming communities grew around them. The bluffs are too steep to farm and most of the trees in the area grow on the tops of bluffs and around their rolling slopes and steep faces. It's unusually cold for April and trees stand as silhouettes against a layer of snow…
Source: TruthOut, Mike Ludwig, May 2, 2013
Mapped: More than 20 Proposed Frac Sand Facilities
MPR News has created this map to illustrate the current level of frac sand mining in Minnesota, based on data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and several counties in the affected areas. It's the most comprehensive map to date showing frac sand mining activity in Minnesota…
Source: MPR News, Frank Bi, May 1, 2013
Sand Land: Fracking Industry Mining Iowa's Iconic Sand Bluffs in New Form of Mountaintop Removal
Within immediate vicinity of a central battleground of the Black Hawk War of 1832, land rife with a resource necessary for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is in the crosshairs of an industry prepared to turn the area into a battle zone once again…
Source: DeSmogBlog, Steve Horn and Mint Press News staff writer Trisha Marczak., April 30, 2013
Balance Sheet Approach to Frac Sand Mining Decisions
Let’s look at the economic, social, and environmental pros and cons to frac sand mining in SE MN…
Source: The Houston Banner, Bryan Van Gorp, April 26, 2013
Slowing Frac Sand Industry Leaves Mark on SE Minnesota
WINONA, Minn. — The southeastern Minnesota facilities that produce and process silica sand used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, were booming a year ago. But now, natural gas prices are down — and so is the demand for the sand…
Source: MPR News, Elizabeth Baier, April 9, 2013
Sand Mines in Our Communities: Your Right to Know
Frac sand mining is rapidly proliferating in western Wisconsin and the impacts are taking many residents by surprise. Property owners are often unaware of mine prospecting near their property. Sometimes they learn of a planned mine by talking with neighbors or reading news stories after the mine application is approved…
Source: WI Senator Kathleen Vinehout, March 28, 2013
Sand County, the Sequel - Bringing the Phrase "World of Wounds" to New Depths
ALDO LEOPOLD was a righteous man—in a midwestern sort of way. When it came to nature, he disapproved of "tinkerings," as when domestic species are substituted for wild ones, and he advised against "readjustments" of the land’s circulatory system…
Source: Orion Magazine, Sandra Steingraber, February 25, 2013 (originally published May/June 2012)
Silica Sand Plant Not Good for Mankato
They want to build a 14-story silica sand (frac sand) processing plant north on Third Avenue, 1 ˝ miles from Highway 14…
Source: Mankato Free Press, Lynn and Darla Austin, February 8, 2013
Forever Home
When I think of St. Charles, I would describe small-town living, a great little downtown, friendly folks and the convenience of being right between Winona and Rochester. When my husband and I married, we sold our homes and decided to buy a “forever home” in a town where we could raise a family. We chose St. Charles…
Source: Winona Daily News, Bethany Gerber, January 16, 2013
Letter to the Editor: Inherent Problems Exist with Frac Sand Mining
Is Houston County facing a series of Moral Hazards over industrial frac sand mining? One form of moral hazard exits when a party will take risks because the costs will not be felt by that party, but rather, the potential costs will be borne in part or whole by another party…
Source: Caledonia Argus, Bruce Kuehmichel, January 15, 2013
Frac Sand Follies…
In the driftless area where Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin meet along the Great River Roads the big news story this year has been a normally boring subject, sand. To us motorcyclists sand where we don't expect it is a potentially deadly hazard. To the citizens with the misfortune of living alongst the roads frequented by the armadas of sand hauling trucks and the local taxpayers who will pay for repairing the roads they damage, sand is becoming serious business…
Source: Daily Kos, GearheadGrrl, December 26, 2012
Video: Sand Mining Industry Booming in Western Wisconsin
Anchor Frederica Freyberg provides an in-depth report on the sand mining industry in Western Wisconsin and the controversial process known as 'fracking.'…
Source: Wisconsin Public Radio, Frederica Freyberg, December 14, 2012
New Fracking Frontier Outside Illinois State Park 'Makes People Question The Whole Deal'
Susan and Merlin Calhoun's rural Illinois land is full of the same bluffs, canyons, waterfalls, bald eagles and barred owls that entice more than 2 million visitors to the adjacent Starved Rock State Park every year…
Source: Huffington Post, Lynne Peeples, December 11, 2012
Does Frac Sand Mining Rush In Wisconsin Threaten Public Health?
While flying back home to Wisconsin earlier this fall, Victoria Trinko had no trouble spotting her family farm from the sky. She simply looked for the frac sand mines that have begun to punctuate the rural Midwestern landscape…
Source: Huffington Post, Lynne Peeples, December 7, 2012
Speaker Warns of Frac Mining Dangers
Rodolfo, a Karst geologist and Professor Emeritus from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Illinois-Chicago, has given similar informational meetings in Wisconsin and Iowa, which like Minnesota, is abundant in the sand used by the petroleum industry. His talk was sponsored by a local group known as the Houston County Protectors, whose aim is to minimize negative social and economic impacts of frac sand mining in southeast Minnesota…
Source: Houston County News, Ryan Stotts, December 5, 2012
Fox 9 Investigators: Silica Sand
If you use natural gas to heat your home, you can thank silica sand for helping to greatly reduce the cost of supplies -- and for the oil boom in America, because that sand is used to help blast oil from shale in places like North Dakota as part of a process called fracking. However, the sand has created a swirling sandstorm of controversy. Since much of the precious sand is located in Minnesota and Wisconsin, local residents fear that mining to get at the sand could tear up local landscapes…
Source: MyFOX9, Trish Van Pilsum, November 11, 2012
For Regulators, Sand Mine Riches Are Tough To Refuse
WHITEHALL, WIS. — For Kevin Lien, the offer was almost too good to refuse. If he left his job as Trempealeau County's director of land management, the sand company would double his salary. And give him profit-sharing. And top it off with a shiny new pickup truck…
Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, Tony Kennedy, October 29, 2012
Should They Build It? St. Charles Grapples with Sand Facility
ST. CHARLES, Minn. — After 10 months of discussing the 300 acre frac sand washing and loading facility that hopes to open outside of St. Charles, city officials and residents are still waiting to hear whether the company can move forward with its plans…
Source: Winona Dilay News, Tesla Rodriquez, October 14, 2012
MPR One on One Series: Regulating Silica Sand Mining
Source: Minnesota Public Radio, One on One Series, October 3, 2012
Planned MN Frac Sand Mine Draws Complaints
People filled a Shakopee hearing room Thursday night to voice their opinion on air quality near a planned frac sand mining operation…
Source: Minnesota Public Radio, Rupa Shenoy, August 3, 2012
Sand Mine in Chippewa County Looking to Triple Size
A frac sand mine in the town of Auburn is looking to nearly triple its size. Superior Silica Sands wants to add 334 acres to its existing 135 acre mine, which is one of nine existing or proposed frac sand mines in the county…
Source: The Chippewa Herald, Rod Stetzer, August 3, 2012
Frack Sand Mines Spring Up in State
The latest indication of how rapidly the frack sand mining industry is growing in western Wisconsin can be found on Wall Street. Houston-based Hi-Crush Partners LP, whose sole operation is in the tiny Monroe County town of Wyeville, wants to raise $200 million in an initial public stock offering…
Source: Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Kathleen Gallagher, July 29, 2012
'Fractivists' Not So Crazy After All
I went to a meeting the other night, in free space made available by a community-minded church that let strangers in and trusted them to take care of the place. Seated on metal folding chairs around a sturdy but unspectacular table were about a dozen people ranging from college age to retirement age. They’re the core of CASM, or Citizens Concerned About Sand Mining…
Source: Winona Daily News, Steve Schild, June 19, 2012
Wrecking Our World for Profit
The day lilies in my front yard are in full bloom — three weeks early. That is in line with everything else that has been happening in my yard — from dandelions to rhubarb to milkweed, the plants are telling me what the meteorologists confirm: For the lower 48 states, this has been "the warmest spring, largest seasonal departure from average, warmest year-to-date, and warmest 12-month period" in recorded history…
Source: Winona Daily News, Jim Armstrong, June 17, 2012
Letter to the Editor: Houston County Hurt By Sand Mining
Anyone who thinks that frac sand is not an issue should think again…
Source: Winona Daily News, Linda S. Griggs, June 13, 2012
Tomgram: Ellen Cantarow, The New Eco-Devastation in Rural America
When workers drilling tunnels at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, began to die, Union Carbide had an answer. It hadn’t been taking adequate precautions against the inhalation of silica dust, a known danger to workers since the days of ancient Greece. Instead, in many cases, a company doctor would simply tell the families of the workers that they had died of “tunnelitis,” and a local undertaker would be paid $50 to dispose of each corpse…
Source: Tom Dispatch, Ellen Cantarow, May 20, 2012
Midwest Sees a Sand Rush
Scouts armed with geological maps and elevations from Google Earth are knocking on doors in the upper Midwest in search of what seems too common to mine: sand…
Source: Wall Street Journal, Mark Peters and Isabel Ordonez, May 13, 2012
'What the —?'; Experts Weigh in on Frac Sand
With the recent surge of hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) in places like North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas, silica sand, also known as frac sand, has become a hot commodity…
Source: Burnett County Sentinel, Joseph Pruski, May 10, 2012
Letter to the Editor: What About the Traffic?
The Winona City Board of Adjustment approved an application for CD Trucking to ship frac sand from our port. It will operate seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m…
Source: Winona Daily News, Marie Kovecsi, May 6, 2012
Mining Companies Invade Wisconsin for Frac-Sand
The recent boom in hydrofracking for natural gas and oil has resulted in a little-reported side boom—a sand-rush in western Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota, where we just happen to have the nation’s richest, most accessible supply of the high-quality silica sand required for fracking operations…
Source: Eco Watch, Pilar Gerasimo, April 27, 2012
Frac Sand Facility Proposed Near C-FC School
FOUNTAIN CITY, Wis. — A proposed frac sand facility that could bring hundreds of trucks per day a quarter-mile from the Cochrane-Fountain City school faces strong opposition from parents and area residents…
Source: Winona Daily News, Adam Voge, April 18, 2012
Commentary: Richard Kyte: Frac Sand Challenges Our Local Goverments
Merely loving something does not ensure its protection. This is abundantly clear when it comes to the Driftless Region ecosystem and the recent debates about frac sand mining…
Source: La Crosse Tribune, Richard Kyte, March 25, 2012
Opinion: Larry Dolphin: Fracking Requires Extensive Environmental Review
The Minnesota Division of the IWLA has become aware of recent silica sand extraction mining requests in southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. We are very concerned about the environmental impact this mining might have on local air and…
Source: Post Bulletin, Larry Dolphin, March 24, 2012
Energy Boom's Uncertain Cost : Hydro-fracking Spawns A New Minnesota Industry - and Fears About Its Effects
WINONA, MINN. - Three years ago, a Texas businessman named Kim Smith landed in this little river town by chance, when his private plane ran low on gas…
Source: Winona Daily News, Josephine Marcotty, March 11, 2012
U.S. Silica: The First IPO In The 'Fracking Sand' Industry
Investors now have the very first pure play on fracking sand… as U.S. Silica (SLCA) went public on the NYSE on February 1st at $17/share, raising $42 million. Prior to this IPO, the only frac sand companies were either private or held by oil companies…
Source: Seeking Alpha, Keith Schaefer, March 6, 2012
Margaret Shaw Johnson: Mining the Bluffs
The news coverage and letters to the editor that I am reading are interesting in that they seem to echo the ongoing national policy debates…
Source: Winona Daily News, Margaret Shaw Johnson, February 16, 2012
The Frac-Sand Frisbee
Why industrial frac sand mining is different than the small agricultural gravel/sand mines we’ve had for years...
Source: The Frac Sand Frisbee Blog
Frac-Sand Mining Could Start in Olmsted County [video]
Silica sand mining, used in the process of extracting fossil fuels from the ground, could soon be taking place in Olmsted County…
Source: Rochester KTTC, Heidi Wigdahl, February 2, 2012
DNR: No Plans To Limit Frac-Sand Mining
DNR Officials say they have no plans to propose statewide limits on mining a special type of sand that makes it easier to drill for oil-and-gas…
Source: WTAQ News, January 26, 2012
Frac-Sand' Mining Rush In Midwest Spurred By Natural Gas Fracking Boom
The rolling hills and scenic bluffs of western Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota hide a valuable resource that has sparked what's been called a modern-day gold rush...
Source: Huffington Post, January 5, 2012
This page was reviewed on May 6, 2015
Related Resources
The Facts: Stop the Frac Sand Free-For-All
Source: Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
Land Stewardship Project Releases "The People's EIS Scoping Report"
The Facts: Frac sand mining in Goodhue County
Source: Save the Bluffs, Goodhue County
Sand Mining in Minnesota
Sand Mining in Minnesota
Source: Candace L. Kairies Beatty / Toby Dogwiler, 2012
scooping out the bluffs
Scooping out the Bluffs: $and Dollars – Mining Frac Sand in the River Valley
Source: Big River Magazine, Reggie McLeod
Related Videos
Video: Panel Discussion - Examples of Negative Impacts of Frac Sand Mining Our Communities
Standing Against the Sandstorm Regional Conference in Black River Falls, WI, June 1, 2013
>> view all videos
Groups With A Common Cause
Frac Sand Mining Issues
Recently, a new dimension in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil has surfaced, and it has the potential for including the very worst of all the major adverse effects of natural gas drilling and production…
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