LSP Statement on MN Court of Appeals Hearing on Frac Sand Ban

LEWISTON, Minn.—Oral arguments in Minnesota Sands, LLC’s, appeal of its lawsuit attempting to overturn Winona County’s frac sand ban will be heard at the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Thursday, May 10, at 10:05 a.m. in Room #200 of the Minnesota Judicial Center, 25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul. The Land Stewardship Project (LSP)issued the following statement:

“The passage of the Winona County ban on any new frac sand operations in November 2016, following a 17-month Land Stewardship Project organizing campaign, was a major victory for the people of the county; the land, water, air and wildlife; and local economies and infrastructure. But the oil, gas and frac sand industry has a history of refusing to respect local democracy and the will of the people, and this case was no different. In the spring of 2017, pro-frac sand interests joined up with two of the largest corporate law firms in Minnesota to sue Winona County in an attempt to overturn the ban.

"We know that the ordinance banning frac sand operations is legal, and that in passing it, the Winona County Board was not only fully within its rights, in line with long-standing legal precedent, but was acting exactly as our government at all levels should. The County Board took bold action to protect the common good, for both people and the land, from an industry seeking to profit from excessive, destructive activity that would cause irreparable harm. Thanks to the careful work of LSP members and staff in the process of passing the ban, the legal record contains ample evidence supporting Winona County's decision, allowing the county's legal team to mount a detailed, skillful defense of the ordinance. Therefore, in November 2017, the frac sand industry's legal attack was resoundingly defeated when District Court Judge Mary Leahy dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice.

"However, frac sand corporation Minnesota Sands, LLC, and its lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels (the largest law firm in the state, which represents a wide variety of corporate interests, including the factory farm and fossil fuel industries), are refusing to drop their desperate attempt to undo the will of the people in Winona County. They have appealed their suit to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. This industry has shown itself to be reluctant to take ‘no’ for an answer, even after it is abundantly clear that frac sand operations have no place in our communities and that we have every right to keep them out.

"Winona County residents will be present in the courtroom on Thursday to show the frac sand industry that we are not intimidated by their desperate tactics. We are confident that when the appellate judges issue their ruling, the right of local governments to protect the common good will once again be upheld.”