Corporation Yet Again Ignores Local Democracy & the Will of the People
Today, Minnesota Sands, LLC filed a petition asking the United States Supreme Court to hear an appeal in its lawsuit seeking to overturn the Winona County frac sand mining ban. Such requests are not automatically accepted by the Court, and given the utter disrespect this company, as well as the frac sand industry in general, have shown when it comes to the will of the people in Winona County and for the integrity of the land itself, this move is disappointing, but unsurprising.
The land has inherent value, and the health of the land and of people are interconnected. All decisions about land use must be made with the needs of the future in mind. The people of Winona County have understood for many years that the frac sand mining, processing, and transport industry offers no benefit to rural communities and is too harmful to be allowed to operate in their communities. That is why Land Stewardship Project members in Winona County carried out a successful, 17-month grassroots organizing campaign calling on the County Board to pass the ban on frac sand mining activities, which it did on Nov. 22, 2016. This process was an example of local government acting fully within its rights, and exactly as it should act — taking a bold step to respond to the will of the public and protect the common good for both people and the land.
Yet, Minnesota Sands has repeatedly attempted to subvert local democracy and the will of the people by turning to the courts in an attempt to undo the frac sand ban ordinance. In spite of the company’s initial lawsuit and two subsequent appeals, the ban has been upheld by the Winona County District Court, the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and the Minnesota Supreme Court, and remains in place today.
Court filings make it clear Minnesota Sands plans on pursuing frac sand mining at numerous sites in southeastern Minnesota, a factor which triggered the state Environmental Quality Board’s requirement that an Environmental Impact Statement be completed. Minnesota Sands’ petition to the Supreme Court is one more indication that the company wants to pursue mining activities throughout that part of the state.
The hills, bluffs, and farmland of Winona County are not for sale to the oil, gas, and frac sand industries to strip-mine and destroy. The people of Winona County and southeastern Minnesota remain steadfast in their commitment to ensuring that Minnesota Sands’ damaging, unacceptable proposals never move forward.