- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WINONA, Minn. (AP) - Winona County has taken a step toward being the first Minnesota county to ban frack sand mining.

County commissioners on Tuesday voted 3-2 to have the county attorney draw up an ordinance that would ban all industrial mining operations in the southeastern county, including frack sand mining.

A final vote is expected at the board’s Nov. 22 meeting, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/2dJwzgJ ).

The sand is used in hydraulic fracturing, a method of oil production.

Opponents of frack sand mining in Winona County worry about health risks, environmental problems and the volatility of the oil business.

While supporters believe the intent would be to protect private property rights, provide new jobs and preserve the region’s chance to take advantage of new developments in the nation’s oil industry.

There are no mine permit applications pending in the county, reflecting the currently oil industry slump.

In the meantime some townships in Minnesota have adopted bans or severe restrictions on sand mining. The administration of Gov. Mark Dayton’s regulations includes a one-mile setback from trout streams. The administration also created guidelines for local governments that can be used to mitigate the environmental problems caused by sand mining.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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