Fox Valley Sierra Group
"Fracking" for natural gas has quickly become an important way for the United States to extract natural gas more efficiently than with traditional methods. Drilling is suplemented by pumping water, chemicals, and sand into the hole at great pressures and fracturing the rocks. The water expands the cracks. The sand keeps the cracks open. The special chemicals (which are secret) presumably act like soap to lower the surface tension of water allowing it to enter very tiny cracks.
Fracking is extremely controversial. Part of the problem lies with the secret chemicals, which are believed to be harmful. These chemicals often find their way into ground water aquifers, preventing the ground water from being.
Fracking is also controversial because it is damaging rock deep within the ground in ways we cannot see or understand. The process has even been known to cause minor earthquakes. But the primary objections come from contamination of groundwater and large usage of water during the fracking process.
Sand, especially the type of sand found in Wisconsin, is needed for the fracking process. Wisconsin is experiencing a boom in sand mining as land owners discover they can make money from the sand below their properties. The mining business is growing faster than the regulations that protect everybody.
Other kinds of sand found in Wisconsin is used for foundry purposes. These mines are similar to frack-sand mines, even though the sand will be used for different purposes.
Residents near sand mines are concerned about their water resources, noise, road damage, property values, and silica dust.
One of our members, Kelly Ramstack, learned in late July (2012) that a foundry sand mine might be built close to her property in Manawa. It would also be across the street from a State Natural Area and near the Little Wolf River. She has been investigating what can be done to protect her corner of the world.
Kelly's Letter to the Editor Appleton Post-Crescent 08/26/12.
Petition against the mine "Say no to town of Union frack sand mining"
Waupaca County sand mine worries town residents Appleton Post-Crescent 08/04/12.
Another meeting was held September 18 at 7:00 in the Union Town Hall. About 80 people were there. All who spoke were against the mine.
Sierra Club press release 09/18/12
Note from Kelly Ramstack (September 25)
I just did a phone interview with Kate Prengaman from the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. They said they got my name through Sierra Club (perhaps from the press release?) I talked about the mine being next to Tellock's Hill state natural area, how they would remove a hill and forever alter the view of our landscape, how wetlands that connect to the Little Wolf River are downhill from the mine site, the silica sand dust and the nearby homes, how heavy truck traffic may affect local businesses - cafes, b&b, retirement community, daycare, campground, etc. I also talked about the strong opposition to the mine - how only 1 person has spoke in favor of the mine in all of our meetings. How we have formed a group opposed to the mine that includes citizens from all over the county. And I spoke in depth about how 2 members of our town board had to recuse themselves and how 1 member doesn't listen to the citizens and caters to the mining company. (I really hope they write something about that!) Oh yeah, and I spoke about how our comprehensive plan speaks of keeping our area rural and not destroying farmland.
The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.wisconsinwatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Here are several good articles on frack sand from WisconsinWatch.org:
Newsletter article by Kelly Ramstack, October 2012
Post Card for November 1 meeting at Waupaca County Courthouse
Map showing the location of the Waupaca County Courthouse
Short TV-11 report of the November 1 meeting.
Six hour video of the November 1 meeting.
Comments from the November 1 meeting at the Waupaca County Courthouse by Kelly Ramstack.
Note from Kelly Ramstack about the 03/18/13 meeting|
At my count, 67 people braved the weather for the public hearing regarding the changes to Union's Comp. plan. 19 people spoke out against the changes. Zero spoke in favor of them. ZERO! Waupaca County Zoning administrator Ryan Brown and Planning and Zoning Chair Jack Penney were in attendance. I can only hope that it's starting to sink in that the people do not want this mine. We are celebrating this small victory. The town board has not yet voted on whether they will adapt these changes but, after last night's hearing, for them to approve them would be outrageous. We'll keep the pressure on!
Sand mine concerns addressed at hearing (03/18/13) Waupaca County Post article published 03/21/13.
Save the Hills Alliance website
Wisc DNR Document, Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin, January 2012
Sierra Magazine, Fractured Lives, July 2012
A plea for help from Kelly Ramstack (03/10/14)