Letter: City, townships earn praise in addressing frac minesI commend the Red Wing City Council, Planning and Sustainability commissions, administration and city attorney for creating strong, forward-thinking silica frac sand ordinances and regulations. They spent many hours pulling together one of the state’s most comprehensive plans.
By: Kathleen Bibus, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
I commend the Red Wing City Council, Planning and Sustainability commissions, administration and city attorney for creating strong, forward-thinking silica frac sand ordinances and regulations. They spent many hours pulling together one of the state’s most comprehensive plans.
This was done without spending city monies to hire experts. Throughout the process, agendas, minutes, frac sand maps and other information have been posted on the web to allow input and comment.
Kudos also to the Hay Creek and Florence town boards and planning commissions for excellent work to preserve the beauty of their communities. Township meetings have been open and encourage citizen comments. Hay Creek even sent out a survey. Meeting agendas, minutes and maps have been available on the townships websites in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the county’s frac sand processes.
Commissioners created a Mining Study Committee, which was a good start, but seven of the nine members had a pro-mine stance and no environmentalist was in the first-year group. In the second year, after citizen outcries, an environmentalist was added.
At the ongoing meetings, there is no scheduled time for citizen input. Agendas, minutes, and maps are not listed on the county’s website in a timely manner, often taking months to be posted. The system is “top down” and closed.
At the county planning director’s suggestion, Goodhue County hired a mining expert for $65,000 to help guide the frac sand policy. This expert has performed work for Windsor-Permian, the oil and gas company that purchased land intended for frac sand mining. His published report is limited in scope and falls short of the depth shown in Red Wing’s plan.
Months ago Rep. Tim Kelly, recognizing the excellence of Red Wing’s efforts, asked that the city work with the county to develop a strong countywide plan. This still hasn’t happened.
I encourage all county citizens to attend Mining Study Committee meetings, contact your county commissioner to demand better communications, talk to city and township boards and visit the websites. If timely and complete information is not available, contact the county planning staff.
Please vote for the commissioners, senator, representative, city and township officials who will save our beautiful bluffs.