Letter: Mining Study Committee committed to comprehensive workWhile I can agree, in part, with what Mr. Kaehler had to say about the countywide moratorium on sand mining and the Mining Study Committee, I cannot agree with his conclusions (R-E, March 28).
By: John Litsenberger, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
While I can agree, in part, with what Mr. Kaehler had to say about the countywide moratorium on sand mining and the Mining Study Committee, I cannot agree with his conclusions (R-E, March 28). What I do agree with is his statement about the ostrich. To that end, the county is doing its part in not sticking its head in the sand.
As one of the nine committee members and an admitted mining advocate (it was my profession for 40-some years) I point out that the committee’s mission is not to ban mining in Goodhue County. Rather, the goal of this committee and the reasoning behind the one-year moratorium is to study Article 14 of Goodhue County’s regulations which governs mineral extraction to ensure it adequately or better covers the mining and processing of silica sand.
Accordingly, these past six months have been spent in educating members as to the roles of state and federal government bodies that regulate mining and mining-related industries. Recognizing there is much to learn in a short time (one three-hour meeting per month) the county recommended outside assistance to perform certain detailed data acquisitions, particularly those associated with the health aspects of silica dust.
Request for proposal went out in December and two responses came back in January. We interviewed both respondents and elected to go with Envirosolutions, as they could offer multiple experts to work on the project (a team approach), have the expertise not only in mining but also in silica sand projects so they did not have to learn the industry, and they are to work as data collectors only.
Envirosolutions is not running the show nor are they to offer recommendations pertaining to how well Article 14 does or does not cover this issue. We ask for information and they are to supply it.
We are committed to complete this assignment within this one-year term. While there is a moratorium there will be no expansion of current mining plans of any kind. Consequently there is more than simply the mining of silica sand at stake. We don’t take our responsibility lightly.
If we determine Article 14 does not adequately cover silica sand mining and processing, then we are to recommend wording to strengthen it. We are not empowered to change Article 14. Neither are we empowered to ban mining.
So, no, the county and the study committee do not have their “head” stuck in the sand. This is an all-out effort to get informed and to give wise and prudent guidance.