Four Frac Sand Companies Join ‘Green Tier’ Program


Four companies that mine frac sand for oil and gas drilling are being awarded for their environmental stewardship. The state’s Department of Natural Resources is accepting the companies into its Green Tier program despite objections among environmentalists.

The Green Tier Program aims to highlight companies that have gone above and beyond state and federal environmental regulations. In turn, the DNR allows these companies to use a Green Tier logo for marketing purposes. Many different industries have taken advantage of the program, including construction, brewing and manufacturing. Now, however, frac sand companies are getting involved, and their industry’s lobbying group is requiring members to apply. Rich Budinger is President of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association. He says Badger Mining, Unimin and Wisconsin Industrial Sand have been accepted into the Green Tier Program, and U.S. Silica has applied.

Budinger: “It’s evidence to how we operate. I mean, we can talk about how we’re responsible operators and we’re stewards of a natural resource, but this was an opportunity to actually show evidence to that.”

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Green Tier members are recognized for environmental management plans that take steps to reduce energy consumption and materials going to landfills. Budinger says companies like Wisconsin Industrial have cut water use by 50 percent.

Kim Wright, though, of Midwest Environmental Advocates, says there’s nothing environmentally friendly about frac sand mining.

Wright: “There’s habitat destruction, surface water, groundwater, air problems. It’s across the board destruction of the landscape.”

Currently 79 Wisconsin companies have been awarded Green Tier status. Compliance is verified through voluntary self-audits.