Poll Shows Majority of Minnesotans Oppose Increased Frac Sand Mining & Favor 2-Year Moratorium for SE MN

Earth Day Frac Sand Event Planned
for Noon at the State Capitol

WINONA, Minn. — Over half of Minnesota voters oppose increased frac sand mining in the state, and 64 percent support a two-year moratorium in the karst areas of southeastern Minnesota while potential environmental impacts are more fully assessed and state regulations are developed, according to a new poll released today. The statewide telephone survey was conducted Feb. 4-6 by the bipartisan public opinion team of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates and Public Opinion Strategies.

These results come the day before the Land Stewardship Project is set to deliver over 6,000 petition signatures to Governor Mark Dayton calling for a two-year moratorium on frac sand mining in southeast Minnesota and the creation of tough state-level regulations to protect air and water quality. The petition drive was launched Jan. 18 in Winona and includes signatures from across the state. Marilyn Frauenkron Bayer lives on her family’s century farm in Houston County and has been working since January to collect signatures on the petition.

“This poll shows Minnesotans strongly support the goals of this petition,” said Bayer. “Minnesotans realize the harm of frac sand mining to the environment, farmland and our local economy far outweigh any so-called benefits. They also recognize the fact a moratorium in southeastern Minnesota makes sense.”

Southeastern Minnesota residents will be traveling by bus to the Capitol in St. Paul on Earth Day, April 22, for a noon press conference and delivery of the petitions to the Governor.

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Gov. Dayton has the authority to enact a regional moratorium through the use of the Critical Areas Act. John Wells, who served as strategic planning director for the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board for 25 years, has described in a two-page memo how this executive power can be used and why the unique threat posed by frac sand mining in the fragile karst geology of southeast Minnesota warrants using it. The Land Stewardship Project presented the memo to the Governor at a December meeting in Winona. Gov. Dayton has said he favors keeping frac sand mining out of southeastern Minnesota.

Lynn Schoen, a member of the Wabasha, Minn., city council, believes using the Critical Areas Act power is imperative to protecting her community and the wider region.

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"I think Governor Dayton has laid out a policy which makes a lot of sense. He has said he favors keeping frac sand mining out of the fragile karst area of southeast Minnesota and tough state-level regulations to protect air and water quality," Schoen said. "This petition supports that policy and urges the Governor to take action to get us there."

The Capitol press conference will be in Room 181 of the State Office Building (100 Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul), with the petition delivery to the Governor’s office to follow. During the press conference, the petition drive and the results of the new statewide poll will be discussed. There will also be two press conferences along the bus route — one at 7:45 a.m. in Winona, Minn., at City Hall (207 Lafayette Street), and another at 9:40 a.m. in Red Wing at the parking lot of the Red Wing Historic Pottery Place Building (Highway 61).

The “Public Support for Frac Sand Mining in Minnesota” poll included telephone interviews with 667 voters in Minnesota. The sample included 600 voters statewide and an oversample of 167 voters in six southeastern counties: Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona. All data was weighted to reflect the true geographic distribution of voters across the state. The margin of sampling error is + or – 4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for the statewide sample, and + or – 6.9 percent for the southeastern Minnesota counties.

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