October 1, 2014

Frac sand bill to get hearing

A lawmaker from western Wisconsin critical of a bill on sand mining regulations. The bill from state Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) would limit the ability of local governments to impose new regulations on nearby non-metallic mining operations. But Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) says the measure will make it far too difficult for local communities to assure the health and safety of residents. “If a city wanted to slow down the pollution coming out of a smokestack, they couldn’t do that under this bill.”

“This legislation would stop any agreements between sand mines and local people in areas that are not zoned,” Vinehout said. And she said it would impose myriad restrictions on local governments in areas that are zoned, dictating how they can regulate mining firms for impacts on air and water quality, damage to roads, even use of explosives.

“This creates so much uncertainty in the law that it’s almost certain that there’s going to be lawsuits,” said Vinehout. “Most of these counties don’t have the resources to take a long fight in court just to be able to protect their local citizens’ air and water.”

Tiffany charges that some local governments have already unfairly restricted the operations of sand mining companies, and exceeded their legal authority by doing so. His bill will be the subject of a public hearing at the Capitol today.