Minnesota Mining Debate

March 3, 2015

 

There is more debate in the mining industry. This time it's happening in Minnesota.

 

A frac-sand ban seemed like a near certainty for one area of the state. That may no longer be the case.

 

Earlier this week, commissioners in Houston County, Minnesota reversed course on the seemingly inevitable ban. Whether it was because of strong public outcry remains unknown.

 

It was just two weeks ago that the board seemed ready to sign off on the state's first ever prohibition on industrial sand mining. Now, board members appear to be unable to agree on much of anything, including an outright ban. There was also no resolution on a proposed ordinance that would regulate the state's mining industry.

 

What caused the logjam? Let's look at the numbers. There are five members on the board. Passage for the ban or the ordinance would have required four of five votes for approval. Instead, the members were split 3-2 on both issues.

 

There are several jurisdictions in Southern Minnesota struggling to manage conflicts that have popped up because of the possibility of open pit mines that would provide sand for "hydrofracking" in the oil and gas industry.

 

Opponents say they are worried about potential health issues. Supporters in the mining industry say they want to protect private property rights and the rights to benefit from the nation's oil industry.

 

The idea of mining and mining protection begins with the idea that safety must come first. There is no breaking the connection between safety and mining equipment. A.M. King makes it a priority to offer used mining equipment.