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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  February 27, 2014

Contact: Shahla Werner, PhD., Director (608) 256-0565
Dave Blouin, Mining Committee Chair (608) 220-4040

Sierra Club Opposes Tiffany’s Latest Frac-Sand Mining Favors

Madison: The Sierra Club today announced opposition to SB 632, Senator Tom Tiffany’s latest attack on local control to benefit the frac sand industry and a handful of owners of sand deposits over the authority of local governments to regulate and protect the public health, air, water and safety of their residents. SB 632 directly attacks the 2012 Wisconsin Supreme Court decision upholding the right of local governments to regulate and even prohibit a frac sand mine proposal.

SB 632 replaces SB 349, pulled from consideration last year over widespread protests. SB 632 retains the rotten core provisions of SB 349. It still ties the hands of local governments by prohibiting the use of village powers for setting rules on frac sand operations. It prohibits local governments from changing or even enforcing rules for operating frac sand mines even if they're found to be "non-conforming" meaning found in violation of the rules. It establishes that local governments are prohibited from doing anything to stop a frac sand operation on lands registered as having a sand deposit – a boon to owners of sand deposits.

Tiffany introduced the bill on February 26 and has scheduled a hasty public hearing with only two days notice for 12 pm, Monday, March 3 in Room 412 East, State Capitol. “Senator Tiffany’s newest bill proves again that he will sell out local governments and their residents to benefit the mining industry,” said, Dave Blouin, JMC Mining Committee Chair, “SB 632 is just as rotten as the bill it replaced and we urge legislators to reject it and instead work to strengthen controls on frac sand mining. There is no evidence regulation has harmed sand mine development and in fact, there is growing evidence that the lack of regulation is causing harm to local air and water resources.”

As of June 2013, an estimated 115 frac sand mines were operating. At least 20 notices of permit violations have been issued by the DNR and 6 cases of violations have been referred to the state Department of Justice for prosecution. Three cases have resulted in $360,000 in settlements so far.

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