On purpose or not, the frac sand industry continues to move forward without full disclosure of information.
Last fall, Winona County determined that an Environmental Awareness Worksheet (EAW) needs to be completed before a mining permit for frac sand would be considered. Accordingly, the mine proposer submits a competed EAW to the county. The county reviews it and then there is a 30-day period for the public to comment.
EAWs for the proposed Yoder and Dablestein mines were submitted last fall but were found to be incomplete. The mine proposers resubmitted EAWs over the holidays, and Christmas Eve was the start date for the 30-day public comment period.
Once again, the EAWs were found to be incomplete They did not include operation and reclamation plans — significant pieces of information. Consequently, the response date has been changed.
If this is how the frac sand industry is going to operate, what oversights will follow if they are allowed to blast, mine, transport and process frac sand? Documents can be changed. Our air, water, environment and quality of life, once polluted or damaged, can’t be resubmitted and will not be as easy to fix, if at all.
It should be noted that the discrepancies and lack of information were discovered through public review, not by county officials. These are only two EAWs. What is the county going to do if a rash of applications come in?
If accurate EAWs are completed and permits granted, who and how is the industry going to be monitored to ensure what is in the documents is being followed ?
The EAWs are available for review at the Winona County Website: www.co. winona.mn.us/page/3038.
Comments need to be made before Feb. 6 and should be directed to: Winona County Planning and Environmental Services Department; 177 Main St., Winona, MN 55987; Attn: Jason Gilman, Director.