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Letter: Silica sand fight is about the very essence of who we are

To the Editor:

Windsor Permian Mining of Oklahoma's apparently purpose is to mine silica sand near Red Wing and transfer the sand to other states from a Florence Township site by rail or river barge. The apparent route would go past Red Wing High School onto Highway 61.

A significant population would be affected by blasting, noise, dust, increased traffic and possible health issues -- especially on windy days. The mine would be on one of the highest elevations and valley neighborhoods could become silica dust bowls.

I believe silica mining in Goodhue County will be a threat to our quality of life. I also think Red Wing, Frontenac and Lake City will pay a high price if this and subsequent mines get permits.

Critical issues to consider are blufftop strip mining, high explosives, excessive dust, increased truck traffic, damaged roads, health conditions such as silicosis, depleted water reserves, runoff, erosion, polluted creeks, noise, disturbance of wildlife habitat.

Once mining starts, it may never stop. If demand for natural gas and oil increase, then demand for silica sand will increase. Could we see four, five or six more mines all over Goodhue County with Florence Township being a regional transfer center?

Gulfport Energy Corp., a company affiliated with Windsor Permian, reportedly told investors in April it had access to 20 million tons of high-quality silica sand reserves in Minnesota.

What are the benefits of silica mining to Goodhue County? A few low-paying jobs where workers risk health problems. Are we to believe this is our future? Will Red Wing to Frontenac to Lake City be renamed the Silica Range?

I absolutely believe this may be the most important fight for our region.

Please turn out for the 7 p.m. Planning Commission Monday at the Justice Center, 454 W. Sixth St., to consider a one-year moratorium of silica mining. Call commissioners, let them study this and then tell them to ban any silica sand mining.

Our future as viable, clean, safe communities is at stake.

Mark McCaughtry, Frontenac