Wisconsin’s biggest hot-bed for frac-sand mining will put a temporary halt to new facilities.
The Trempealeau County Board in Whitehall voted 12-to-nothing last night not to consider any new silica-sand removal permits for a year. Existing sites will not be allowed to expand, either, while county officials study the impact of frac-sand mining on people’s health. County environmental director Kevin Lien says the public has questions that local officials cannot answer. The moratorium’s author, Supervisor Sally Miller, says it will slow things down and quote, “give us a chance to catch our breath.” Trempealeau County has 10 frac-sand mines operating, and 16 other sites are in various stages of development after getting permits. Those sites cover more than 47-hundred acres. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says Trempealeau County has issued more frac-sand mining permits in the last 36 months than any other county in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. Wisconsin alone has over 100 facilities. Supervisor Miller recently complained that fellow County Board member David Suchla broke ethics laws by engaging in his own proposed frac-sand operation with a Texas firm. Suchla admits being in the frac-sand business but said he has not violated anything. A prosecutor in nearby La Crosse is investigating.