Western Wisconsin (WQOW) - A statement from the DNR delivers a blow to citizens who were calling for more restrictions on the frac sand industry.
Tom Woletz, the DNR's point person on sand mining in western Wisconsin, spoke to the Natural Resources Board on Wednesday. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he told the board the DNR believes existing regulations are sufficient for the sand industry and that the agency has no plans to add any new restrictions on frac sand mines and processing plants.
Last year, a group of people, which includes a physician in Barron County and a man who spent years in mining, signed a petition asking the Natural Resources Board to come up with rules for crystalline silica, namely defining it as a hazardous air contaminant. Crystalline silica is a fine particle that comes from minerals, including sand. There are concerns about the impact it will have on the health of residents who live near mines as frac sand mining expands.
Governor Scott Walker was in western Wisconsin on Thursday and he was asked about the controversies surrounding mining in the state. "If you pull out the state flag and you look at the seal, one of the two people on it is a miner. One of the four quadrants on the industries highlighted on the state seal is mining and the badger on the top of the state, it's not because there are a lot of badger animals, it's because we're a mining state. We should be able to lead the country and lead the world in safe and environmentally-sound mining," said Gov. Walker.