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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • The three-person Buffalo County, Wis., Board of Adjustment tabled a conditional use permit for the Seven Sands frac sand mine and wash plant at a recent public hearing in Alma, Wis. The hearing lasted six hours and included expert testimony by consultants hired by Glacier Sands, the company that would operate the mine, as well as attorneys representing the Cochrane-Fountain City School District and John and Nettie Rosenow. Approximately 150 people turned out for the hearing and more than 40 testified. Seven Sands’ landowners, friends and family members, wearing lime green “Sand = Jobs” t-shirts, voiced unconditional support for Glacier Sands and its proposed mining operations. Other speakers expressed a wide range of concerns from environmental issues effecting the health, safety and welfare of the community to problems associated with potential damage to highways, bridges and county roads.
  • According to the LaCrosse Tribune, a year-long frac sand moratorium in Trempealeau County, Wis., is set to expire at the end of August. The county Board of Supervisors, in the latest vote on frac sand issues, voted 8-7 against extending the moratorium at a packed meeting. The extension request came from the county’s Board of Health, which had initially requested the moratorium in August 2013 a few months after the board narrowly rejected a previous moratorium request. Kevin Lien, the county’s director of land management, said his only concern with the moratorium ending would be if recommendations come in to change the frac sand or zoning ordinance while a new wave of permits roll in. During the moratorium, a Health Impact Study Moratorium committee was formed to study whether sand mining negatively affects the public health and safety. The group was tasked to look at water quality, light and noise pollution, air quality, and other factors and bring recommendations back to the county board.
  • According to the Twin Cities Daily Planet, the owner of a controversial Houston County silica sand mine was notified by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that he must stop mining and apply for a DNR Silica Sand Mining Trout Stream Setback Permit. The Erickson silica sand mine in Houston County’s Yucatan Township is within a mile of Ferndale Brook, a designated trout stream. This is the first silica mine to test a 2013 state law which established a rigorous permitting process for silica sand mines proposed within one mile of a trout stream. Despite being informed by the DNR in an April letter that the DNR Setback Permit is required, the mine owner began mining activity on July 24. The DNR, once informed by neighbors of mining activity, took action and on July 28 delivered a letter, via a conservation officer, to the owner ordering mining to stop.