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Minnesota Court Upholds Mine Decision


The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld a Winona County decision that no environmental impact statement is needed for a controversial frac sand mining project already operating in Saratoga Township, according to the Great Lakes Echo.

In 2011, site owners David and Sherry Nisbit applied to the county board of commissioners for a conditional use permit for a 19.1-acre silica sand mining project to be located in the middle of 74 acres of farmland. It would excavate 700,000 cu. yd. of soil and involve up to 280 truck trips daily.

In August 2012, the county planning commission held a hearing, received public comments and reviewed conditions recommended by the planning department to address such matters as dust control, noise and traffic. The commission recommended that the board approve the permit with conditions.

The board then prepared an environmental assessment worksheet. After further proceedings and review, including another public hearing, it concluded that no environmental impact statement was required – technically called a “negative declaration” – and granted the permit, which requires the project to comply with 39 conditions.