Trempealeau County Votes Against Extending Frac Sand Mine Moratorium

Moratorium Will Expire At End Of August

Piles of sand await frac sand processing at a western Wisconsin plant. Photo: Tegan Wendland/WCIJ.

Supervisors in Trempealeau County voted down a proposal to extend a temporary ban on new frac sand mines on Thursday.

The yearlong moratorium on new mines and processing plants was meant to give officials time to study possible health impacts related to silica dust and possible groundwater pollution. A report from that health study comes out on Sept. 2, but the moratorium expires at the end of August.

This week, a proposal was floated to extend the moratorium another three to six months. Supervisor Sally Miller said some worried the board wouldn’t be able to act on findings before new mines got permitted.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“Basically they were concerned there would be this long line of permit applications waiting on Sept. 2, and that if we had changes that they felt were really important to implement, to be considered, that there would be no opportunity to implement these changes before these permits started going through this process,” said Miller.

While the original moratorium passed unopposed, the resolution to extend it failed on an 8 to 7 vote.

Board Supervisor Ernie Vold voted for the moratorium, but said that if there is a threat to public health, county laws can be changed with or without a moratorium.

“I don’t see any detriment to the citizens of our county by allowing the moratorium to expire, because if there are any changes that are necessary the county board can take those actions at a later date and implement them,” said Vold.

Vold and others on the county board also worried that extending the moratorium could have led to legal challenges from land owners and mining companies.

Trempealeau County has permitted more frac sand operations than anywhere else in the state.