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Earth Day Arrives Along with Petition on Frac Sand Mining

PHOTO: - A petition with more than 6,000 signatures will be delivered to Gov. Mark Dayton today, asking him to implement a two-year moratorium on frac sand mining in southeastern Minnesota. Photo credit: Derek Bakken/Flickr
PHOTO: - A petition with more than 6,000 signatures will be delivered to Gov. Mark Dayton today, asking him to implement a two-year moratorium on frac sand mining in southeastern Minnesota. Photo credit: Derek Bakken/Flickr
April 22, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With the arrival of Earth Day in Minnesota comes the arrival of a petition on frac sand mining to the desk of Governor Mark Dayton, asking him for a two-year moratorium on frac sand mining in southeastern Minnesota. It has more than 6000 signatures, including that of Marilyn Frauenkron Bayer of Houston, who says such mining doesn't belong in the area.

"We're asking him to do this because southeastern Minnesota is definitely a very sensitive geologic area because of the Karst geology in southeastern Minnesota," she said. "And it really doesn't sit with the historical components of what's transpired in this area in the past."

Frac sand is made up of hard quartz particles of a specific size, and is used in the mixture pumped into underground rock formations in the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas drilling. Much such sand is mined in Wisconsin.

Those opposed to the restrictions say frac sand mining brings jobs, as well as a boost to the local economy. Frauenkron Bayer says those promises often fall flat while air and water quality are put at risk.

Frauenkron Bayer says today's petition delivery also comes with the release of a new poll commissioned by the Land Stewardship Project finding a majority statewide in favor of the moratorium.

"And that shows that 64 percent of Minnesota voters - not just in this area - 64 percent of Minnesota voters support a two-year moratorium on frac sand mining in southeastern Minnesota," she said.

Frauenkron Bayer says she believes the support is strong across Minnesota because of what has transpired with frac sand mining in parts of western Wisconsin.

"And how it has moved in and taken over areas that before were peaceful rural communities and now are basically industrialized zones, and they don't want that happening here," she said. "This is a very grave danger to have that happen here."

If enacted, the two-year moratorium would cover Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Olmstead, Wabasha and Winona counties.

Poll results are at LandStewardshipProject.org. Petition details are at landstewardshipproject.org/forms/fracsandpetition.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN