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Wisconsin Lawmaker May Look at Statewide Standards

According to the Wisconsin Radio Network, a state lawmaker said he’s open to revisiting a proposal to create statewide standards for regulating frac sand mines.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) was a co-sponsor of legislation last session that would have created a statewide framework for regulating mines that extract sand used in hydraulic fracturing. The mines have been seeing dramatic growth in recent years because of demand for the sand used in North Dakota’s oil boom.

However, mine operators have often found themselves at odds with neighbors and local governments, due to concerns about the noise produced by trucks hauling the sand and the dust kicked up as part of the mining process. Several communities have moved to restrict the development of new mines, including passing moratoriums on new permits.

Tiffany said that patchwork of regulation is problematic for an industry that can create jobs and help Wisconsin’s economy grow. He says businesses not knowing how they are going to be treated from community to community can “have a chilling effect” on the way they do business.

The Hazelhurst Republican said he’s currently exploring the issue, although he admits a different approach may be needed after members of his own party backed away from both versions of a bill he introduced last session. Still, he said what lawmakers eventually consider needs to provide certainty to the industry and local officials. He said providing consistency, while also maintaining local control, is “a fine line to walk.”