DNR Board Approves In-Depth Study Of Frac Sand Mining Industry

Environmental Group Had Petitioned Agency For The Analysis

A conveyor belt that carries frac sand to a processing center. Photo: Carol Mitchell (CC-BY-NC-ND).

The Department of Natural Resources will take a closer look at industrial sand mining in Wisconsin, after the Natural Resources Board unanimously approved an in-depth study on Wednesday.

Much of the sand mined in Wisconsin gets used for oil and natural gas extraction in other states. An environmental group petitioned the DNR for a “strategic analysis” of frac sand mining amid concerns that the sand mines are causing harm to water and air, especially in western Wisconsin.

Board Chairman Preston Cole wants the department to make sure local officials have what they need to evaluate mine sites.

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“I’m not sure if all of them have the requisite tools. That part of your analysis will be really interesting for me, as to what tools they need to make decisions,” said Cole.

The DNR said it will begin the strategic analysis with public outreach to identify potential issues to address.