WINONA, Minn. (AP) — Winona County has become the first Minnesota county to ban frack sand mining.
County commissioners last week voted 3-2 to ban the mining of the sand used in hydraulic fracturing, a method of oil production, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Supporters of frack sand mining in Winona County said it could create jobs and boost the economy. Opponents worried about threats to health, harm to the environment and the volatility of the energy business. Sand mining in Minnesota and Wisconsin has boomed and waned along with oil and gas production
“These operations are literally in my constituents’ backyard,” said Commissioner Marie Kovecsi, who voted for the ban “The direct implications of noise and dust and road safety are faced by my constituents.”
Commissioner Steve Jacob voted against the ban, saying a better solution would have been to regulate the number of sand mines in the county.
“It was a rural versus city issue,” he said.
Johanna Rupprecht with the Land Stewardship Project said she hopes Winona County’s decision will set a precedent.
“People had their say and the local officials followed the will of the people,” she said. “They put the best interests of the citizens in the county and of the land of the county ahead of what’s best for the frack sand industry.”