Environmental Quality Board misses October 1 deadline for frac sand guidelines

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Tuesday, the Environmental Quality Board missed a statutory deadline set by the 2013 legislature to produce model standards and criteria for silica sand mining. That’s not necessarily bad news for those seeking a high floor for the standards, and the additional time that the EQB is taking includes public hearings at the end of October.

Mining critics had feared that the draft model standards and criteria, pulled during an EQB meeting in September, would have set lowbar in the voluntary guidelines.

Reached by phone today, EQB chair and Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson said while parts of the process had “gotten wrapped around the axel” as the EQB moved forward, he believed that the end result would arise from a transparent discussion of the issue.

A Silica sand library of existing local standards and ordinances was posted online on schedule Tuesday, as mandated by law.

On September 18, Minnesota Public Radio’s Stephanie Hemphill reported in Frac sand draft rules go back to the drawing board:

The state Wednesday stepped back from its draft standards designed to help local governments regulate frac sand mining.

The Environmental Quality Board, an oversight group, listened to three hours of criticism from residents of southeastern Minnesota.

Environmental activists complained that the draft standards were looser than some existing local rules, that they lacked scientific underpinnings, and that they would undermine local efforts to protect the environment.

In the end, the board promised to re-write the document with a lot more public and industry input.

According to a letter sent to local government units by new EQB Executive Director Will Seuffert, three public meetings for collecting that input will be be held across Southern Minnesota:

Friday, October 25
Blue Earth County Library
100 East Main Street
Mankato, MN
2:00 p.m – 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 29
St. Charles Community Center
830 Whitewater Avenue
St. Charles, MN
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Tuesday, October 29
Wabasha-Kellogg High School
Performing Arts Center
2113 Hiawatha Drive East
Wabasha, MN
1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

Here’s the letter:

Silica Sand Letter to Local Government Units

Image: A cluster of related sand mine projects in Winona County. via Land Stewardship Project.