Action Needed to Support Senate Bill that Protects Southeast MN Trout Streams from Frac Sand Mining

Bill to be Heard as Early as Wednesday, April 24,
in Senate Environment Finance Committee

Working with Minnesota Trout Unlimited, Sen. Matt Schmit has included language in Senate File 796 protecting southeast Minnesota trout streams from frac sand mining and processing. SF 796 is the Omnibus Game and Fish Policy Bill and Sen. Schmit is the author. The provisions in the bill say that in southeast Minnesota:

• No frac sand mining is allowed within a mile of any spring, groundwater seepage area, fen, designated trout stream, class 2a water or any tributary of class 2a water or designate trout stream.

• The DNR cannot issue groundwater appropriation permits for frac sand-related activity, including frac sand processing.

• Mining frac sand within 25 feet of the water table is prohibited.

The bill applies these provisions in an area defined by the DNR as the Paleozoic Plateau (222) Ecological Section. This area generally encompasses Minnesota's five southeast counties. A detailed map is on the DNR’s website HERE.

These provisions protecting trout streams would help dramatically in limiting the harm frac sand mining can do in southeast Minnesota and would go into effect immediately. As reported in a Rochester Post-Bulletin article, Gov. Mark Dayton has weighed in against supporting a moratorium at this time. Without a moratorium, we need standards in place NOW before any more frac sand mines or processing facilities are established in southeast Minnesota. The provisions in Senate File 796 are a good step in that direction.

TAKE ACTION! Senate File 796's next stop will be in the Senate Environment and Agriculture Finance Committee. It will likely be heard Wednesday, April 24, at noon in Room 107 of the Capitol. If you plan to attend the hearing, please e-mail me at bking@landstewardshipproject.org.

1. Call or e-mail members of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Finance Committee and urge them to support these critical provisions protecting trout streams in southeast Minnesota from frac sand mining.

Here is a suggested message for the committee members:

“As a member of the Environment and Ag Finance Committee, you will soon be hearing Senate File 796, the Omnibus Game and Fish Policy Bill. This bill has important provisions to protect southeast Minnesota’s trout streams from frac sand mining and processing. The karst topography in southeast Minnesota creates conditions for cold streams and some of the best trout fishing in the country. However, it also allows for these streams to be easily polluted. The state has invested millions in maintaining these trout streams and trout fishing is an important economic industry in our area. Sen. Matt Schmit has included provisions in the bill for southeast Minnesota that prohibit frac sand mining activity within a mile of sensitive trout streams, prohibit groundwater from being used for frac sand mining and processing, and prohibit frac sand mining within 25 feet of the water table. These are common-sense provision needed to protect southeast Minnesota’s trout streams. Please support these provisions and oppose attempts to remove them from the bill.”

Members of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Finance Committee:

• Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL), 651-296-4196 or sen.rod.skoe@senate.mn

• Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL), 651-296-9248 or sen.dan.sparks@senate.mn

• Sen. Carrie Ruud (R), 651-296-4913 or sen.carrie.ruud@senate.mn

• Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL), 651-296-7809 or use contact form

• Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL), 651-296-4136 or use contact form

• Sen. Foung Hawj (pronounced “her” ) ( DFL), 651-296-5285 or sen.foung.hawj@senate.mn

• Sen. Bev Scalze (DFL), 651-296-5537 or sen.bev.scalze@senate.mn

• Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL), 651-296-4191 or sen.scott.dibble@senate.mn

• Sen. David Osmek (R), 651-296-1282 or sen.david.osmek@senate.mn

• Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R), 651-297-8063 or sen.bill.ingebrigtsen@senate.mn

• Sen. Bill Weber (R), 651-296-5650 or sen.bill.weber@senate.mn

• Sen. Torrey Westrom (R) or sen.torrey.westrom@senate.mn

2. Call Governor Dayton at 651-201-3400 or 800-657-3717 or e-mail him HERE.

Here is a suggested message for Gov. Dayton:

“I am very concerned about the harm the frac sand industry poses to my community. I was disappointed when you said that you do not support a moratorium on frac sand mining at this time. I believe it is critical that we get strong state standards in place before this industry pollutes the air and water and destroys roads in southeast Minnesota like it has in western Wisconsin. I believe it makes sense to have a moratorium while those state standards are created. However, without a moratorium we must have strong standards for southeast Minnesota now. Sen. Matt Schmit has included provisions in Senate File 796 for southeast Minnesota that prohibit frac sand mining activity within a mile of sensitive trout streams, prohibit groundwater from being used for frac sand mining and processing, and prohibit frac sand mining within 25 feet of the water table. While more is ultimately needed, these standards are a good start and I would like you to publicly support them and work for their passage. Without a moratorium we need standards like this in place now."

Update on Other Key Frac sand Bill

Both the Senate and House Omnibus Environment and Agriculture Finance Bills contain frac sand provisions. Senate File 1607 and House File 976 have both passed off the Senate and House floors. They are now headed for a conference committee to have the differences reconciled. The conference committee members have not yet been named. As soon as this happens, look for an LSP action alert.

SF 1607 has the stronger frac sand provisions. The following provisions are only in SF 1607:

• For one year from passage of bill, all frac sand mines that will be over 20 acres in size and at least 10 feet deep require an environmental assessment worksheet.

• The Environmental Quality Board must amend the environmental review rules for frac sand facilities to take into account increased activity and concerns over the size of specific operations.

• Local governments can extend local moratoriums to March 1, 2015, no matter how long they have already been in place.

Both bills contain provisions that require the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to adopt rules for the control of particulate emissions from frac sand mines, the Minnesota DNR to adopt rules for reclamation of frac sand mines, and for the Minnesota Department of Health to adopt air quality standards. Both require that state agencies create a technical team to help local government and to create model ordinances for local governments to use.

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