Stop the Frac Attack on Local Democracy!

Citizens rally against frac sand mining bill

Photo courtesy of Stacy Harbaugh, Midwest Environmental Advocates
A rally of around 200 people organized in part by WNPJ took place at the State Capitol on Thursday, Oct. 24 to protest SB 349, introduced by State Sen. Tom Tiffany and Rep. Joan Ballweg. SB 349 would take away local governments' ability to pass ordinances to protect their air and water, regulate blasting, and recoup costs to taxpayers from industrial use of local roads. A public hearing on the bill lasted from 9:30 AM to 9:00 PM. Many citizens from western Wisconsin who spent hours on a bus to get to and from Madison were not allowed to speak before they had to return home, while representatives of frac sand mining companies and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce got first billing from Tiffany & company.
While Assembly speaker Robin Vos has said that house will not take up the bill this session, it could be passed by the Senate now and voted on by the Assembly in the spring. The legislation was introduced at the behest of frac sand companies seeking to permit new mines quickly, with no regulation or government oversight. But the impact of the bill goes far beyond communities dealing with frac sand; it takes away local democracy from everyone in Wisconsin

Click Here for more information on frac sand mining

The bill:
  • Prevents all local authorities (counties, townships, and municipalities) from passing protections for their own air and water quality and water quantity, leaving them at the mercy of what the DNR is willing or able to enforce (which has been not much over the past few years).
  • Prevents all local authorities from monitoring their own air and water quality and water quantity.
  • Prevents local governments from regulating blasting. 
  • Effectively prevents local governments from collecting funds to reimburse taxpayers for the destruction of local roads due to heavy industrial truck traffic.
  • Further erodes local governments' ability to regulate frac sand mining, only giving them a say when it comes time to clean up the mess and even then, holding them to the lowest possible standard.
  • Prevents communities facing the proposed Penokee open-pit iron mine from passing ordinances to prevent blasting of rock with asbestos or prevent damages to the environment.
  • Prevents communities dealing with Combined Animal Feeding Operations from protecting their groundwater and surface water from contamination.
  • Has massive as-yet-to-be-understood future consequences for many other local communities.
The number and size of frac sand mines in the state has been skyrocketing since 2011, more than doubling over the past year to over 115 mines. These operations produce ambient silica dust, a known carcinogen, use large amounts of groundwater, and create noise, dust, and heavy truck and train traffic 24 hours a day in rural communities. Our beautiful driftless hills are threatened with leveling by mining for sand that is used in natural gas fracking, a process that pollutes groundwater so badly that well users in areas that have fracking can sometimes light their tap water on fire. Mining is a boom-bust economy that creates fewer jobs than manufacturing or renewable energy--click here for more information on frac sand.
The bill doesn't just impact communities dealing with frac sand--it will have statewide repercussions. Communities like those trying to protect their groundwater from being contaminated by factory farms, and those trying to protect their air and water from the proposed open-pit iron mine in Ashland and Iron Counties, will also have their authority to protect local citizens crippled. This affects all of us. 

Rally Sponsors:

Madison Action for Mining Alternatives
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
Wisconsin Grassroots Network
Save the Hills Alliance, Inc.
Family Farm Defenders
Preserve Trempealeau County
Save Our Town Whitehall
Town of Lincoln Concerned Citizens
Wisconsin Resources Protection Council
SOUL of Wisconsin
Midwest Environmental Advocates
Crawford Stewardship Project
Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network
People Empowered Protect the Land (PEPL) of Rosendale
Kewaunee CARES
Reedsburg Area Concerned Citizens
Southwest Wisconsin Area Progressives
Frac Sand Sentinel
Concerned Chippewa Citizens
Kate Rice
Monroe County Sand Mines
Houston County Protectors (Houston, MN)
Maiden Rock Concerned Citizens
Sierra Club
Loyalty to Our Land
Buffalo County Defenders
Hale No to Frac Sand Mining in Western WI
Physicians and Health Care Providers of the Chippewa Valley
Juneau Action Group
Preserve Waupaca County
Allamakee County Protectors Education Campaign
Save-The-Bluffs-Goodhue County, Minnesota
Frac Sand Industry Awareness in Wisconsin-Facebook
Concerned Citizens of Dovre
James J. Drost, BS, MS-Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, University of WI-Madison
John Drost, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus-Mathematics-University of WI-Eau Claire
Mississippi River Water Walk
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition-West Virginia
Echo Valley Hope
Friends of Wabasha-Wabasha, Minnesota
Citizens Against Silica Mining (CASM)-Winona, Minnesota
Citizens for Responsible Land Use (Dale Crisler, President)
David F. Slottje, Executive Director, Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc.. Ithaca, NY
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)
Friends of the Lower Wisconsin River
Solidarity Singalong
Raging Grannies
Madison Infoshop
Jackson County Citizen Voices
Albion's 5th Generation
Lookout for Buffalo County
Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County  (Iowa)
Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups
Rye House, Minneapolis
Land Stewardship Project-Minnesota
Wisconsin Wave
Food & Water Watch
Midwest Coalition Against Lethal Mining