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Winona County Bans Frac Sand Mining


Winona County became the first county in Minnesota to pass a total ban on frac sand mining. Experts on both sides of the issue said Winona County is likely the first county in the nation to do so. The victory for environmentalists came after years of citizen activism against frac sand generally and a more than one-year-long campaign for this ban specifically. Ban supporters celebrated their achievement. Ban opponents promised to sue the county.

Late last month, the County Board voted to reject other ideas and move forward with a ban, but they delayed a final vote until Winona County Attorney Karin Sonneman could finalize the county’s legal rationale for the ban.

The ban will block new mines, processing or trans-loading facilities in rural Winona County. That means Minnesota Sands will not be able to pursue the cluster of frac sand mines in Saratoga Township it proposed in 2012, and the Walcholz farm in Warren Township would not be allowed to follow-up on the sand prospecting conducted on their property in 2014. 

The county ordinance will not apply to cities such as Winona, Goodview and Minnesota City, where mining, processing and loading frac sand is still permitted. It will not rule out the possibility of cities annexing nearby rural land to circumvent the county ordinance, as became common practice in Trempealeau County.

Source: Winona Post