State Frac Sand Mining Association Formed


A new trade association has been created for companies mining for frac sand. Its goal is to create a better understanding of the industry, but critics say lobbying is its main mission.

It seems there is a Wisconsin Association for everything: cranberry growers, court reporters, liquid waste carriers, and so many more. Now, there is a new player in town, The Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association or WISA. It was created by four sand mining companies from the western half of the state, all of which mine for frac sand used in oil and gas drilling operations.

Rich Budinger of Fairmount Minerals is WISA’s President. He says, “We’re going to be looking for as many members that are willing and able to adhere to the strict code of conduct that’s in place, a requirement of membership, as possible. The goal of the association is to set a gold standard for safe and environmentally responsible sand mining operations in the state of Wisconsin.”

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Industrial sand mining and frac sand mining in particular can be unpopular in towns where new mines spring up. Budinger says part of WISA’s charge will be to educate the public about an industry that has been in Wisconsin for more than a century, but has grown in recent years.

Anti-frac sand activist Pat Popple of Chippewa Falls does not see it that way. “Sounds like another spin to me.” She says the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Mining Association will likely be more of a lobbying firm. “There probably will be a push to make it sound good, but making it sound good does not always mean it’s going to be good.”

Popple and others are concerned that industrial frac sand mining operations are bad for the environment, increase heavy truck traffic and could lead to health problems related to silica dust.