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Comment Process On DNR Frac Sand Study Gets Off To A Rocky Start

State Officials Absent From First Public Meeting

Rich Kremer/WPR News

The first public meeting related to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ new comprehensive frac sand mining study was held in Chippewa County Tuesday night. Comments were gathered but organizers dealt with some surprises along the way.

The DNR is working with Midwest Environmental Advocates to get comments on what the frac sand mining study should look like. MEA held their first meeting, but it got off to a rocky start. The town hall refused to let them use tables or chairs and MEA representatives were uncertain whether anyone from the DNR would show up, which they didn’t. Also, MEA Executive Director Kim Wright said, the DNR hasn’t posted anything about the study on its website.

“I can see that it’s confusing to people,” Wright said. “So, I do have concerns about how meaningful citizens’ rights are if a process isn’t understandable.”

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About 30 people did offer written comments covering subjects like silica dust, water use and mine reclamation. Other meetings are scheduled to be held in Mondovi and Black River Falls.

A DNR spokesman responded to MEA’s comments, stating that the Department never agreed to participate in the groups meetings. The agency plans to release its own comment gathering process next week.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a response from a DNR spokesman.