In our democracy, it is up to us as organized people to use our power to make sure our governments and institutions best serve people and the land. Nearly two-and-a-half years ago, the people of Winona County won an historic victory when the County Board of Commissioners voted to pass a ban on any new frac sand operations in the county’s jurisdiction. Our Commissioners listened to the will of the public and correctly took this bold action, using the zoning abilities of local government to protect the common good for both the land and people.
But frac sand interests soon chose to try to use the courts to undo this democratic decision. So far, the ban has been resoundingly upheld both by the District Court in 2017 and by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 2018. Frac sand corporation Minnesota Sands, LLC appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in the case on Wednesday, April 10. This is the last appeal available to Minnesota Sands, LLC. Because the ban would never have happened without our grassroots organizing campaign, LSP has submitted an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief to make sure the interests of our Winona County members are fully included. To read the brief, click here.
Because of the high profile and strong public interest in the issue, the Minnesota Supreme Court chose to hear this case at the University of Minnesota Law School auditorium. The hearing will begin at 9:05 a.m., Wednesday, April 10, at Walter F. Mondale Hall, 229 19th Ave. South, Minneapolis (click here for directions and parking information). However, seating in the auditorium is expected to be extremely limited and if you plan to attend, I encourage you to arrive by 8:05 a.m. to make sure you will get a seat.
There will also be an overflow room available to view the hearing, and a video of the proceedings will be made available on the court’s website about a week after the hearing. The court will not make a decision at the hearing; its ruling in the case is not expected to be made for several more months.
LSP organizer Johanna Rupprecht, who is based in the organization’s Lewiston, Minn., office, can be reached at 507-523-3366 or via e-mail. More on LSP’s frac sand organizing work is here.