The Fillmore County Board will be considering whether or not to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Rein silica sand mine at its regular board meeting on Tuesday, April 2, at 9 a.m. The decision by the board will cap a 30-day process, which included hearing and receiving comments from 17 government agencies, groups and individual citizens.

Those comments and questions were responded to by the county on March 14 and additional comments towards this issue continue to be taken. Once the county feels that there has been enough opportunity for people to share their opinions, they will make their decision at the board meeting.

Since it is a regular meeting, public input time will commence at 9:30 a.m. with no opportunity for public comment when the recommendation is made to the board.

The Rein mine site in Holt Township is looking to expand to 50 acres, which is why they were required to submit an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW). The site has been operating since 2008 although the silica sand pulled from the site has not always been used for hydraulic fracturing purposes.

To many Fillmore County residents opposed to the frac sand industry, the requirement of an EIS is their goal. Dale Forster of Lanesboro feels that if the county doesn't require the Rein site to have an EIS completed, other silica sand sites, which are under the operation of Minnesota Sands, would see more reason to bring a lawsuit against the requirement that they have to submit an EIS.

"We need an EIS to put the details all in one place," he shared, adding that he doesn't feel the Rein site should get preferential treatment.

According to zoning administrator Chris Graves, none of the state agencies that have commented on the EAW have recommended an EIS on the site. An EIS would be required by the state if the site were looking to expand to at least 160 acres.

Based on the comments he has received from those state departments such as the Department of Transportation, Department of Health and the DNR, Graves said he will not be recommending the county require an EIS from the Rein site.

Graves did add that if the county were to require an EIS, Rein can make an appeal to the district court.

Again, this issue will be decided at the April 2 Fillmore County Board meeting at the courthouse in Preston.