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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • According to the Winona Daily News, a permit for a proposed sand mining and wash-plant operation in the Town of Waumandee, Wis., was denied 3-0 by the Buffalo County Zoning Board of Adjustment. More than 50 people testified at a second public hearing on the project, most of them opposed to granting a conditional-use permit to mine frac sand on 88 acres of land in the vicinity of Schoepps Valley and Oak Valley. Badger Bluff Sands had sought a 10-year permit to mine sand and a 20-year permit to operate a sand washing plant, but the county’s three-member board of adjustment had doubts about several pieces of the proposed three-phase project and agreed to deny a permit on grounds of protecting public health, safety and welfare.
  • According to Wyoming Public Media’s energy and natural resources reporter Stephanie Joyce, if frac sand isn’t properly managed, it can become a silicosis hazard. She cited a 2012 study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health that found that at more than half of sampled well-sites, exposure levels were above mandated workplace safety standards. Joyce said during a roundtable discussion that at some well-sites, exposure levels were 10 times higher. Fracking in the state is under increased scrutiny after the Wyoming Supreme Court found a lower court had ruled in error regarding disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
  • The decision on whether or not to ban frac sand mining in Houston County, Wis., has been put off until at least next fall. County commissioners on April 8 held a conference call with land-use attorney Jay Squires, according to the Houston County News. First, the board held an hour-long closed session to discuss a possible lawsuit over a contentious sand mining application, then opened the meeting while they discussed how to proceed on the larger issue of either writing a new industrial mining ordinance or initiating a ban. A study group charged with drafting a sample industrial mining ordinance has already begun to meet. Commissioners have also approved a concurrent effort to look into legal language needed for a ban.