On Tuesday, Jan. 16, frac sand corporation Minnesota Sands, LLC, filed a notice of appeal declaring its intent to challenge a district court ruling upholding the Winona County, Minn., frac sand ban. Pro-frac sand interests’ attempt to overturn the ordinance in Winona County District Court was dismissed with prejudice in November 2017 by Minnesota District Court Judge Mary Leahy. The frac sand ban was enacted in 2016, when Winona County Commissioners listened to and acted on the clearly expressed will of the people following a 17-month grassroots campaign.
This latest appeal is simply more evidence of what’s been clear to southeastern Minnesota residents for years: the oil, gas and frac sand industry has no respect for rural people, our communities, our democracy or the land. It is yet another outrageous and desperate attack by an industry that is unwilling to take “no” for an answer in its quest to exploit our region’s hills, bluffs and farms for the silica sand found beneath them.
No industry has a right to profit by harming public health, safety and welfare, or destroying the land. For this reason, to protect the common good Winona County passed the ban and was fully within its rights to do so. Long-standing legal precedent supports the authority of a local government to use its zoning powers in this way to protect the community, as Judge Leahy’s ruling made clear. We are confident that the Court of Appeals will likewise uphold Winona County’s democratically enacted decision.