The frac sand mining battles may be over in our area for the time being, but the issue is starting to pick up at the state level.
Mankato hosted one of three public comment meetings today to look at environmental and safety standards for the industry.
The Minnesota Legislature ordered the Environmental Quality Board to come up with a basic outline for what regulations of frac sand mining should look like.
The EQB is a co-op of nine state agencies, including the MPCA, which looks at environmental impacts, and MnDOT, which is concerned with transportation.
Their goal is to put together an outline of regulations for counties, cities and townships to base their own rules.
Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson says, "The local unit of government would be responsible for doing their own model standards. And I can't emphasize this enough, if they want to use them. They can make them tougher or make them less restrictive."
Most of the 50 people in attendance were either government workers or people in the frac sand industry, though a few remnants from the Jordan Sands opposition came as well.
Concerns range from the end result of the product, oil fracking, to environmental issues like air and water contamination, as well as health effects on people nearby.
Caroline Harrington says, "We're putting the cart before the horse. They're already starting the operations, but nobody has come forth with statistics that say how much silicon dust causes silicosis over what amount of time. That's what nobody seems to want to tell us."
Officials will hold two more meetings in St. Charles and Wabasha.