DNR Will Get More Staff To Monitor Air Quality Near Frac Sand Mines


The proposed state budget would give the Department of Natural Resources more people to monitor air quality near frac sand mines.

The legislature left in Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal to give the DNR more money and staff to regulate the Wisconsin silica mines that supply the hydraulic fracturing industry. Hydrofracking, as it’s sometimes called, extracts oil and natural gas.

Professor Crispin Pierce directs the environmental public health program at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He praises many DNR employees, but has raised concerns about the agency’s overall approach to monitoring air emissions near the frac sand mines. Pierce says two new DNR staff members may not be enough to protect the state, if the DNR doesn’t regularly check for very fine particles about 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

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Pierce: “We have decades and decades of research with the American Heart Association. Many people in the field with published peer-reviewed studies have found that these small, fine particulates…are associated with death and disease.”

Pierce spoke over the weekend at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair near Stevens Point. Also on hand was filmmaker Josh Fox, who’s releasing Gasland 2 — his second movie raising concerns about hydro-fracking. There’s no fracking in Wisconsin, but fox says the sand mining controversy makes the battle Wisconsin’s, too.

Fox: “They’re doing mountaintop removal in Wisconsin. They’re blowing up frac sand.”

The Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association says its members follow a mandatory code of conduct that guide efforts to be a leader in fostering healthy, safe and environmentally responsible sand mining.