According to the shale oil and gas industry, we are sitting on a gold mine – for them. For us, it basically means “mountain-top removal”. Yes! Apparently we have the best silica (or fracking) sand in the U.S. So if your county, township or village has neither zoning nor a non-metallic mining ordinance to address frac sand mining, look out.
The oil and gas industry, in the name of “energy self-sufficiency” is known to devastate the landscape, pollute the air, poison and diminish aquifers (with “secret” chemicals), and lower property values. Not to mention the ramifications of broken pipelines… And we taxpayers heavily subsidize them, while truly clean alternative energy is always underfunded, so cannot compete.
Now they need our sand as well as massive amounts of our water for cleaning and processing. While we hope few landowners would sell or lease to them, we cannot stop anyone from doing so. What we can do is implement an ordinance (in each township) that would mitigate or slow down the process and regulate operating hours for blasting and processing facilities, road use and trucking maximums, distance from homes, et cetera. “Reclamation” is required – but it is a joke, since you can’t put the gentle valleys and tree covered ridged back together again.
Each township and village board needs to hear from its constituents that you want a strict regulatory (or licensing) ordinance. Time is of the essence, so write or call your board members or attend a town meeting. You may need to put this on the agenda in advance. Let your voice be heard.
We may lose some of our ridges forever, like they have north of us, but we can at least minimize the health effects of noise and the toxicity of our water, land and air. Wisconsin does not regulate respirable crystalline silica particles, although it’s a known carcinogen and can cause silicosis! We are all vulnerable, so citizen action in necessary.
- Lynn Weborg
and Chris Balistreri