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Letter: Stop destroying our environment: say no to mines

EPA National River and Stream Assessment shows the nation's rivers and streams are in bad shape. This is the money quote: "There are various reasons for the bad shape the nation's rivers and streams are in. Nutrient pollution is a major cause, with phosphorus and nitrogen running off from agricultural and urban sources. There's also land development that can cause accelerated erosion and flooding" -- mostly through removing natural plant and tree cover.

Now one might argue that development is coming no matter what ... condos, subdivisions, sand mines. What is important to remember is that silica sand mines dig deep, taking out the natural aquifer filtration and using huge amounts of water at the same time, radically changing the natural topology on a large scale while increasing discharge and also changing how runoff moves through the environment. This is the worst kind of natural, water system degradation.

The EPA further stated, "Phosphorus, nitrogen, and streambed sediments in particular have widespread and severe impacts."

As the spills on the St. Croix River and elsewhere continue to show, sediments from sand mining are a serious concern for the regions rivers and streams. From the St. Croix River Association website: "As a recent example, a frac sand mine located near the St. Croix River discharged a large amount of silt-ridden water into the otherwise clear waters of the river."

Our rivers and streams are under ever more stress, which is damaging for our entire ecological health. We need to reduce the stress where and when we can. Huge, gaping wounds like silica sand mines should be stopped as a first order of business, because they create damage that is irreversible. No land reclamation, no monitoring can repair the damage.

The laughable number of jobs that might be produced can't address the damage. We need to stop the damage, and stop pretending that giant holes in the ground to support carbon intensive fuel sources is a good idea.

Evan Brown

Red Wing