At its hearing on Sept. 9, members of the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB) made it clear that they are hearing an outpouring of concerns from southeastern Minnesotans about the frac sand industry's attempt to pave a path for frac sand mining across the region (see previous LSP action alert), spurring the EQB to decide to investigate the proposal and demand more information before proceeding.
Again, in March 2013, thanks to organizing and pressure from the people of southeastern Minnesota, the EQB enforced the requirement of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the MN Sands proposal. According to the Minnesota Attorney General's office, this EIS requirement is still in place.
The EIS requirement meant that the company could not seek permits for any part of its project until after the EIS had been carried out. An EIS is a comprehensive review of all the potential impacts of a proposed project, which takes one or more years to complete and must be paid for by the company. The requirement blocked MN Sands from moving forward for more than seven years because company officials know that the proposal will not pass the full, public scrutiny provided in the EIS. The company has continued to fail to provide the information necessary for the review process to even begin.
In 2017, MN Sands attempted to move forward via one mine at a time to skirt the EIS requirement — and the company is doing it again. The EQB rightfully stopped this attempt in 2017, and we need them to step up again.
The company has a proven track record of being untrustworthy and having no regard for the people and land of southeastern Minnesota. MN Sands has not proven that this project is any different from its past status as one part of a multi-site proposal, or that the company has dropped additional proposed sites. EQB staff acknowledged during yesterday's meeting that they have not received any new detailed information from MN Sands.
Our agencies and decision-making bodies belong to the people, not corporations or project proposers. LSP will be doing more digging and keeping you in the loop.