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Sand mining is expected to be an issue at state level

Sand mining for hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is an issue on the minds of many lawmakers, especially in rural areas.

They differ somewhat in their opinion of how the state should be involved but agree the issue will be raised during the upcoming legislative session.

"I think we'll have some discussion about the mining issue, especially in southeastern Minnesota as it affects the Mississippi River," Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said.

He said the state probably will not have a major role except when it comes to issues with transportation.

"We need to look at the taxes we're collecting when we extract minerals from the ground, and if are they adequate to cover all the costs associated with that work," he said, referring to roads that might need to be repaired or built for trucks transporting the materials. "We don't want the other taxpayers subsidizing the gravel operation."

Sand is a key ingredient to the fracking process that used by oil and gas producers. Sand mining is a booming industry, but one that has environmental and other opponents who have slowed its growth.

"I think there will be questions asked and legislation discussed to look at ways that this industry can operate in Minnesota and, to the best of our ability, help protect the environment," Assistant Senate Majority leader-elect Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, said.

Some Minnesota cities and counties have put in temporary moratoriums on mining while they explore the issue and pen regulations.

When asked about it, Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders said they expected to deal with the sand mining issue, but could offer no specifics.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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