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Letter: Governor, we need a silica sand mining moratorium

To the Editor:

An open letter to Gov. Mark Dayton concerning frac sand mining:

Last summer, citizens of southeastern Minnesota petitioned Environmental Quality Board requesting preparation of a generic environmental impact statement to analyze the potential negative environmental impacts of the silica sand mining industry.

A two-year moratorium was also requested in order for state agencies to have sufficient time to study the many issues surrounding frac sand mining and to prepare recommendations and guidance for officials at the local and state levels.

The EQB published its report in March. This 70-page document addressed air quality, water quality and quantity, transportation, impacts on sensitive natural resources and socio-economics of sand mining on communities and described potential additional topics. This report outlined the many questions that still need to be answered about the impact of frac sand mining on health and the environment.

You earlier expressed concern for the impact of frac sand mining and you said, "I don't want it to be like feedlots, where the industry got ahead of government."

Our neighbors in the western counties of Wisconsin have warned us and shown dramatic graphic evidence of the adverse impacts the frac sand mining industry has had on their state and the irreversible damage that has been inflicted on their environment.

Because of what we have seen happen, we in southeast Minnesota are worried about frac sand mining. We are worried about disruption to our local economies, about excess withdrawal of water from our aquifers and depletion and contamination of our water supply, about "fugitive dust" and the serious health concerns of silicosis and asthma, about the deterioration of our roads and bridges by trucking hauling frac sand, and about being left, in the end, with a countryside dominated by a wasteland of empty, useless pits.

We urge you to act to protect citizens' health and well-being by encouraging the Legislature to enact a moratorium on frac sand mining while a GEIS is being prepared, establishing strong standards for regulating and monitoring the frac sand mining industry and providing for sufficient taxation to support repair and remediation and community compensation.

Sigurd Anderson

Lake City