Clayton County officials have commissioned a study to determine the environmental and aesthetic impacts of a proposed expansion of Iowa's only frac sand mine.
Pattison Sand Co. LLC has petitioned Clayton County, Iowa, to rezone 746 acres of agricultural land to heavy industrial use to facilitate expansion of its underground sand mining operation in the town of Clayton, Iowa.
Company officials said expansion is needed to build underground sand reserves and help with long-term planning.
Community activists have questioned the expansion, noting the company has more than 15 years worth of sand reserves on its property, and the decreased demand for hydraulic fracturing due to falling oil prices.
"Investing in trucks and other heavy equipment requires long-term planning," a Pattison Sand representative wrote in an email as reported by the Telegraph Herald. "Second, while the energy business is soft right now, we are quite bullish on our long-term prospects. We have sand reserves to last several years, but again we must think even longer term. The investments we make now will allow us to remain an important job creator and economic driver in Clayton County for many years to come."
More than 60 people attended a recent meeting of the Clayton County Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss the issue. Many expressed concerns over possible negative impacts on the environment and area tourism if the zoning switch is approved.