Letter: Safeguards not in place for silicaThe Albrechts’ commentary (Feb. 27) in part addressed the appropriateness of silica mining on this area.
By: Larry Sonnek, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
The Albrechts’ commentary (Feb. 27) in part addressed the appropriateness of silica mining on this area. I agree wholeheartedly with their point that “Mining which negatively impacts the bluffs, our transportation infrastructure, our waters … or our air quality needs to be examined.”
Unfortunately, because of “personal inspection” just across the river, the Albrechts’ erroneously concluded that “the regulators” are firmly in place. By regulators, they probably mean the MPCA, DNR, and MSHA.
I've personally talked to these regulators. They either don’t have adequate regulations, jurisdiction or adequate manpower to enforce regulations where they might exist. In other words, they can’t or won’t be able to protect the citizenry.
Consider the simple but poignant question: What is the allowed limit of carcinogenic silica dust particles in the air surrounding mines? In Minnesota there aren't any limitations. Is that adequately regulating mining? California and Texas both have limits. Why shouldn't Minnesota?
To wait until our water is polluted or our aquifers dry up before we act is irresponsible. To wait until our transportation system is negatively impacted or we find we have exchanged jobs in the tourist industry for truck driving jobs is inconceivable. To allow mining of our bluffs or in areas that affect our wetlands, rivers and streams is malfeasance.
Let me be clear. Anyone who thinks all of these areas are adequately regulated is undereducated.
To help educate yourself, go to https://sites.google.com/site/savethebluffs/ or Google “Save the Bluffs,” or see the March 28 showing of “The Price of Sand" or attend the chili feed/fundraiser at Dressen’s March 16.
To help protect our citizens and the environment, Sen. Matt Schmit masterfully guided his bill, S.F. 786, through hearings. It requests a one-year moratorium, a comprehensive study and subsequent laws to address inadequacies. We need a study to determine appropriate standards (like silica levels) and the moratorium to prevent mines from establishing themselves before the study is complete.
Rep. Tim Kelly on the other hand refuses to offer a companion bill with these safeguards. Before the election he said he’d try; now he says, I won’t. Why?