The Minnesota Court of Appeals today upheld Winona County’s ordinance banning frac sand mining. The court upheld that Winona County acted fully within its rights in using its zoning authority to prohibit industrial mining operations. This ruling further affirms that the proper role of government is to take bold action to protect the common good, for both people and the land. This ruling affirmed a previous District Court ruling issued November 17, 2017.
Frac sand corporation Minnesota Sands, LLC, had challenged the ban, attempting to use the courts to undo Winona County’s decision.
This ruling affirms the power that organized people have, acting through our government, to protect our communities from harmful, extractive industries that would place corporate profits above communities’ well-being. The frac sand ban was passed in 2016 after a 17-month grassroots organizing campaign, in which Winona County residents fulfilled their responsibility to act together and make sure elected officials protected the common good. The people of Winona County know that the destructive frac sand industry has no place in the kind of economy we need for our rural communities to thrive.
People took action to pass this ban because we understand that the land has inherent value, and that the health of the land and of people are interconnected. By destroying the land, we also harm ourselves. And we understand that the path to prosperity for rural Minnesota cannot depend on extractive corporations that abuse our natural abundance or hurt people’s health, safety and well-being. Today’s ruling should serve as an inspiration to people in all communities organizing to prevent such harmful proposals, whether they are frac sand operations, factory farms, immigrant detention centers, or others. People have the power, when we work together, to protect our communities and to achieve a vision for the future that upholds our values.