Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court announced that it would not hear frac sand corporation Minnesota Sands, LLC’s, suit attempting to overturn the Winona County frac sand ban. Thus, the ordinance preventing any frac sand mining, processing, or transportation operations within the southeastern Minnesota county’s jurisdiction remains in place. The Land Stewardship Project is pleased that the court has made the right decision, respecting the people of Winona County’s right to keep their communities safe from this harmful industry.
The frac sand ban was passed in 2016 following a 17-month grassroots campaign in which residents put their values into action to protect their communities. After Minnesota Sands sued the county in an attempt to undo it, the ban was upheld by the Winona County District Court in 2017, the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 2018, and the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2020. In October 2020, Minnesota Sands petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.
The people of Winona County and throughout southeastern Minnesota have organized to oppose the frac sand industry for many years because this industry is incompatible with stewardship of the land and with healthy, thriving communities. In passing the ban, the Winona County Board of Commissioners was fulfilling the proper role of local government, listening to the will of the people, and acting boldly to protect the common good for both people and the land. Now, despite Minnesota Sands’ desperate attack on this democratically-enacted decision, hills, bluffs, water, air, and communities in Winona County will remain protected from frac sand companies’ destruction.