Letter: County should extend moratoriumNearly a year ago, Goodhue County put in place a moratorium to evaluate whether the current county mining ordinance was sufficient to control silica sand mines like the large (and largely unregulated) operations springing up all over Wisconsin.
By: Evan Brown, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
Nearly a year ago, Goodhue County put in place a moratorium to evaluate whether the current county mining ordinance was sufficient to control silica sand mines like the large (and largely unregulated) operations springing up all over Wisconsin. The board created the Mining Study Committee with the mandate of studying the concerns raised by citizens regarding these operations.
The Mining Study Committee is poised to issue its report and draft ordinance to the County Advisory Planning Commission. A review of the draft ordinance finds that instead of following the mandate of the County Board, a pro-mining majority on the committee, led by a mining consultant, is recommending a draft ordinance that makes it easier for large mining operations to roll over local concerns.
Road impact agreements, air quality monitoring or mining technical evaluation panel review of a proposed operation are only required if determined necessary, but no standards are given for when these conditions would be necessary. Conditions without standards are unlikely to ever be imposed.
Even more amazing is what's missing, which is any regulation regarding size or traffic at a proposed sand mining operation. The huge scale of these operations, which already are being proposed at 1,200 acres nearby, and the huge growth in the number of operations is the major concern. Hundreds to thousands of trucks a day can traffic a single mine, degrading roads. Studies have shown that soil fertility never recovers from large open pit mining, despite reclamation efforts. Sandstone bluffs and hills that act as filtration for aquifers will never be replaced. Huge amounts of water will be used and could easily dewater nearby properties. Dust will be extremely hard to control from sites this large, and clouds of highly concentrated crystalline silica will effect nearby property owners, putting them at risk of asthma, silicosis and even cancer.
On July 16, the County Advisory Planning Commission will hold an open meeting to consider the draft mining ordinance. They should recommend extending the moratorium so that the Mining Study Committee can prepare a draft ordinance more concerned with the welfare of county residents.