Bill could restrict frac sand mining moratoria
A bill limiting local governments' ability to enact moratoriums for things like frac sand mining is raising eyebrows in western Wisconsin. In western Wisconsin, moratoriums have been passed to halt the expansion of frac sand mining operations unt...
A bill limiting local governments' ability to enact moratoriums for things like frac sand mining is raising eyebrows in western Wisconsin.
In western Wisconsin, moratoriums have been passed to halt the expansion of frac sand mining operations until local officials can study possible health and environmental effects. But a bill introduced in the state Senate looks to change how local governments pass future moratoriums. It sets a number of restrictions and conditions to be met before a moratorium can pass. One example is municipalities must get a written report from a certified engineer or health professional to prove that a moratorium is needed to address public infrastructure or safety concerns.
Rep. Jim Steinecke of Kaukauna co-sponsored the bill. He says it's about creating standard practice and making it harder to pass unneeded moratoriums.
"I don't believe municipalities should be able to come in and enact moratoriums that inhibit the ability of private property owners to develop their property the way they see fit as long as there's not significant health or public safety reasons for doing so," he said.
But Eau Claire County Board Supervisor Will Fantle doesn't like the restrictions. Eau Claire County recently passed a six month moratorium after a number of frac sand mining companies began prospecting there. He says these moratoriums are not frivolous, "This is a necessary element for us, certainly in Eau Claire County, allowing us to get our house in order and look at the best way we can protect our land, water and citizens and ensure that any mining that takes place is done with the county's interest in mind."
A similar bill restricting moratoriums was introduced in the Minnesota state Legislature just days before the Wisconsin bill.