MN House Holding First Hearing on Frac Sand Issue March 13

Call to Let Representatives Know We Need a
Moratorium & Strong State Pollution Standards

MN Senate Moves a Strong Bill Forward

On Wednesday, March 6, citizens packed the Minnesota Senate State and Local Government Committee in support of Senate File 786, authored by Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL-Redwing). The bill passed out of committee and was referred to the Senate Environment Finance Committee. The bill calls for a one-year moratorium on frac sand mining and an in-depth environmental study that will be used to establish state-level pollution standards to protect air and water. The state level pollution standards are in addition to county, city and township local control, which stays strong under this bill.

MN House to Hold First Hearing on the Issue

House File 906, authored by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-Mendota Heights), will be heard Wednesday, March 13, in the House Environment Policy Committee. House File 906 calls for the Environmental Quality Board to develop standards for frac sand ordinances that can be used by local units of government and to create a technical assistance team to help local units of government. We must work to strengthen this bill by making sure it contains the key elements of Senate File 786.

A Harmful Industry

The frac sand industry in Wisconsin has destroyed rural communities and flouted pollution regulations. In a recent article, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources official said he “expects 90 percent of companies in a regulated industry to comply with rules on their own. But in his visits to a dozen frac sand facilities, [DNR official] Sellers encountered the opposite pattern, and he sent letters of noncompliance to 80 to 90 percent of the sites.” The article says nearly a fifth of all Wisconsin frac sand facilities were cited for environmental violations last year (La Crosse Tribune: “Growing frac sand industry faces DNR violations, warnings,” March 3, 2013).

TAKE ACTION

1. Attend the House Environment Policy Committee hearing on House File 906 on Wednesday, March 13, at 4 p.m., in Room 200 of the State Office Building. If you want to testify on the bill, contact committee administrator Peter Strohmeier at 651-296-5069 or peter.strohmeier@house.mn. If you plan to attend, please let LSP's Bobby King know at 612-722-6377 or bking@landstewardshipproject.org.

2. Contact members of the House Environment Policy Committee. Every committee member needs to hear how important it is that the Legislature take strong action on this issue during this legislative session.

Below is a suggested message. It is lengthy because we need to educate legislators on the issue and let them know how we need House File 906 strengthened:

“I am calling about House File 906, authored by Rep. Rick Hansen, which you will hear this Wednesday in the Environment Policy Committee. The bill deals with the frac sand industry. The frac sand industry has been devastating to western Wisconsin, where at least 70 mines are now operating. The frac sand industry has shown no respect for rural communities, and according to the Wisconsin DNR at least 80 percent of the operations visited by officials are in non-compliance with pollution rules. Nearly a fifth of Wisconsin’s sand mines and processing plants were cited for environmental violations in 2012, according to the DNR.

"Regulating this large and new industry has been primarily left to local governments, but they need assistance from the state. House File 906 provides assistance to local governments dealing with the issue, but we need more than that. We need state legislation that calls for an in-depth environmental study of the industry and the establishment of state-level pollution standards to protect air and water. The state level pollution standards would be in addition to county, city and township local control, which must stay strong.

"Most importantly, while this is going on we need a state moratorium on new and expanding frac sand facilities. I urge you to support House File 906 and to support strengthening it to include these elements, which are moving forward in the Senate as part of Senate File 786, carried by Sen. Matt Schmit."

If you live in an area potentially affected by frac sand mining, be sure and say how this issue will impact you personally.

Members of the House Environment Policy Committee:

• Rep. David Dill (DFL), Committee Chair, 651-296-2190, rep.david.dill@house.mn

• Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL), 651-296-5363, rep.peter.fischer@house.mn

• Rep. John Benson (DFL), 651-296-9934, rep.john.benson@house.mn

• Rep. Jason Isaacson (DFL), 651-296-7153, rep.jason.isaacson@house.mn

• Rep. Clark Johnson (DFL), bill co-author, 651-296-8634, rep.clark.johnson@house.mn

• Rep. John Persell (DFL), 651-296-5516, rep.john.persell@house.mn

• Rep. JoAnn Ward (DFL), 651-296-7807, rep.joann.ward@house.mn

• Rep. Barb Yarusso (DFL), 651-296-0141, rep.barb.yarusso@house.mn

• Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R), 651-296-2439, rep.tom.hackbarth@house.mn

• Rep. Tony Cornish (R), 651-296-4240, rep.tony.cornish@house.mn

• Rep. Dan Fabian (R), 651-296-9635, rep.dan.fabian@house.mn

• Rep. Steve Green (R), 651-296-9918, rep.steve.green@house.mn

• Rep. Denny McNamara (R), 651-296-3135, rep.denny.mcnamara@house.mn

• Rep. Mark Uglem (R), 651-296-5513, rep.mark.uglem@house.mn

• Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL), bill author, 651-296-6828, rep.rick.hansen@house.mn

• Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL), 651-296-4200, rep.jean.wagenius@house.mn

For more information on LSP's work on this issue, contact Bobby King at 612-722-6377 or bking@landstewardshipproject.org.