A state lawmaker says he’s open to revisiting a proposal to create statewide standards for regulating frac sand mines.
State Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) was a co-sponsor of legislation last session that would have created a statewide framework for regulating mines that extract sand used in hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to drill for oil. The mines have been seeing dramatic growth in recent years because of demand for the sand during North Dakota’s oil boom.
However, mine operators have often found themselves at odds with neighbors and local governments, due to concerns about the noise produced by trucks hauling the sand and the dust kicked up as part of the mining process. Several communities have moved to restrict the development of new mines, including passing moratoriums on new permits.
Tiffany says that patchwork of regulation is problematic for an industry that can create jobs and help Wisconsin’s economy grow. He says businesses not knowing how they are going to be treated from community to community can “have a chilling effect” on the way they do business.
AUDIO: Senator Tom Tiffany (:31)
The Hazelhurst Republican says he’s currently exploring the issue, although he admits a different approach may be needed after members of his own party backed away from both versions of a bill he introduced last session. Still, he says what lawmakers eventually consider needs to provide certainty to the industry and local officials. He says providing consistency, while also maintaining local control, is “a fine line to walk.”
The state’s largest business lobby highlighted reforming the regulatory process as one of its top legislative priorities for the spring session.