Archive | Environment

Frac sand mining controversy moves to state Capitol

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Winona, Minn. — State lawmakers will hold hearings beginning this week to address the fast-growing frac sand industry and its effect on Minnesota.

Made of silica, the sand is used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract natural gas and oil from the ground.

Although local lawmakers are grappling with how to zone and regulate the industry, rules differ widely throughout the state. Many local officials would welcome streamlined state regulations.

Red Wing mayor lobbies for silica sand industry

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Rochester, Minn. — Some residents in Red Wing say their mayor, Dennis Egan, should not have accepted a job with a lobbying group for the silica sand industry.

Egan is now also the executive director of the newly created Minnesota Industrial Sand Council. It’s a group of companies with interests in silica sand mining — a quickly growing industry that is also creating controversy in a number of cities and counties in southeastern Minnesota, including Red Wing.

Deer hunting stands go upscale

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Rollingstone, Minn. — As hunters in southeastern Minnesota head outdoors for the final weekend of the deer-hunting season, some will wait to spot a deer the way they always have — perched atop a tree on a makeshift tree stand. But others won’t have to rely on makeshift tree stands. Instead, they’ll hunt from the comfort of deer hunting shacks, some of which include glass windows, doors and heaters.

Deer stands have long been a tradition for hunters in the region. But state Department of Natural Resources officials say the newer structures are bigger and more elaborate. And some are appearing on public land and in forests where they are prohibited.

Amish residents question mining activity in SE Minn.

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St. Charles, Minn. — The rolling countryside near St. Charles is a place of horse-drawn buggies and one-room schoolhouses, woodworking shops and limited electricity. Settled by 60 Amish families, it’s a place of simple living, where farmers like Daniel Gingerich raise livestock.

Gingerich, a bishop in the isolated community, fears the burgeoning silica sand mining industry in southeastern Minnesota could harm their way of life.

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