The frac sand “wash plant” at a Blair, Wis., frac sand mine.
Thoughts from committee members
Houston County Frac Sand Committee member Kelley Stanage noted, "We have gotten to the point where most industry is self-regulated in terms of environmental regulation.
"This would be fine, if all employees of all companies were ready, willing and able to accept environmental compliance as one of their core responsibilities.
"Unfortunately, they are not (at least not all of them). This responsibility is relegated to maybe one employee in an entire plant.
"And that employee's goals frequently run counter to the company's revenue and profit goals.
"I'm not saying all companies (or employees) are corrupt. But one careless or irresponsible or unethical action (for example, releasing a toxic chemical into a water table) can cause long-term problems for a large number of people."
Fellow committee member Steve Beach works in the aggregate business.
"When you're in the mining industry you realize that you've got to be a good neighbor and not cause problems for the community or the neighbors," he said.
"Otherwise, when you need to zone additional land for your business, you're going to have many more problems."
Governmental enforcement of regulations and being a responsible member of the community is the key, Beach said.
"Any mine has to meet the requirements of state agencies. There could be an environmental impact statement needed or an environmental assessment worksheet, depending on the size of the mine.
"If an operation is causing pollution through the air, water or even soil erosion, there are governmental agencies that are enforcing those laws.
"The company would be subject to both civil and criminal fines and could be shut down by the state."
"The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a tab on its website that lists both businesses and other governmental bodies that are being fined for a violation... I believe they even have a tab where you can turn in a site for a proposed violation, and they will investigate.
"It's about being both environmentally correct and locating where it will be a good use of a natural resource for the surrounding community.
"You don't want to create artificial shortages of a natural resource just because of anti-mining sentiment, which is likely to occur if you don't do things right.
"It's about responsibility. Without a doubt, being responsible in your operation and working with the surrounding community is very important."