Letter: County should demand full environmental reviewI’ve attended every Mining Study Committee meeting since October.
By: Jody McIlrath, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
I’ve attended every Mining Study Committee meeting since October. I fully respect their effort and commitment and want to say thank you. However, my observation is there’s a significant caveat regarding the depth and breadth of their report. It’s like saying the study committee explored the entire Atlantic Ocean but in fact they just went wading at a Florida beach.
They are an intelligent group, but they are not the Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Transportation or the Public Health Department. Representatives of those agencies came to the meetings and admitted they’re just now beginning to learn about mining’s potential impacts.
The consultant’s report clearly states silica sand’s composition is completely different than construction sand. There are official classifications of construction and industrial sand used by the government.
Why isn’t it differentiated in the zoning ordinance? Where are the health protections?
I implore all Goodhue County commissioners to demand a full and complete environmental impact study of frac sand mining here. Insist on it before there are any shovels in the ground. At permit time, what we’ll see is a minimal environmental assessment worksheet — a cookie-cutter way of allowing the devastation to begin and an easy way in for the wealthy energy companies to get wealthier.
If the county intends to treat sand mining and its processing as one business, combine the acreage in Hay Creek and Frontenac as one site, forcing it to exceed the 160-acre minimum and trigger a full environmental impact statement. If Muskie wants this sand so badly, make them pay for it.
The mining study did what they were assigned to do, but if we accept these reports as in-depth information, we are facing a treacherous ocean with nothing more than water-wings and a snorkel.
Extend the moratorium, tighten up the ordinance and get it right the first time.