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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • The Land Stewardship Project is proclaiming that 47 frac sand companies currently operating in Wisconsin were reviewed by their organization, and environmental violations and other abuses were found to be abundant. The violations outlined in the report include sediment and wastewater spills, air quality problems, and illegal drilling and construction. Rich Budinger, president of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association, said there is an industry commitment to the environment, but issues around zoning and land use are a byproduct of new development or construction. Budinger also notes the industry has created thousands of jobs in Wisconsin, and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic growth.
  • A new commentary from The Heartland Institute notes that “Contrary to assertions that the frac sand industry lacks proper oversight, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) website states all nonmetallic mining operations (including frac sand) must obtain DNR water permits to operate in the state. Additional permits are needed for water withdrawal, modifying wetlands, storm-water discharge, air pollution for construction and operation of the facilities, mine safety, and many more industry practices. DNR rules also require frac sand companies to restore the land upon completing the mining process, reestablishing wildlife habitats or farm fields.”
  • According to WQOW in Wisconsin, a new frac sand study, led by a team of UW-Eau Claire educators and students, is set to be unveiled next month. It offers a closer look at frac sand sites and the air quality surrounding them. The study showed particulate levels between five to 50 micrograms per cu. meter around frac sand facilities. The EPA stated levels at or below 12 micrograms per cu. meter is likely to protect the public from silica exposure risks. “The data we've collected don't suggest an immediate threat to people who live around frac sand plants,” said Crispin Pierce, UW-Eau Claire environmental public health program manager. “They do suggest though that there are elevated levels of these fine particulate, so over time we may see the development of problems with breathing, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems. These data give us some concerns, say that we need to do further investigations.”