Silica northern white sand scraped from the area’s scenic hills and valleys is destined for distant fields where it’s blasted into shale to unlock gas and oil thousands of feet below in a process known as “fracking.” While it’s touted as the Midwest’s contribution to the nation’s drive for energy independence, a precise picture of how much of the new found oil and gas remains in the U.S. and how much is exported remains clouded.
According to news reports and firsthand accounts told by citizens, social un-rest and division exist at both ends of this flow of materials and fortune. Furthermore, critics with diverse backgrounds, even some with pro-mining leanings, contend there is a lack of base data on exactly how much airborne pollution will come from existing and future plants, and how that will impact air quality.
How soon will 60 plants mushroom to 160, or 320? How will severe scouring of the natural landscape affect fish and wildlife inhabiting the region’s precious, rare coldwater resource and ridgeland forests and brushy coulee corridors?
While the state regulates sand mine impacts on soil, water and air, town government is in the driver’s seat on matters related to plant locations, and some towns have either drawn up their own development agreements or, joined by county officials, elected to put the brakes on mining decisions until they deal with a growing list of uncertainties.
During this collective pause, why not allow this conservation principle - ”Honor the Land” – guide the search for long-term solutions? We’ve got plenty of sand…and time.
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This post was written by bkurtenbach on February 13, 2012