Tuesday - November 21, 2017 2:09 am

Thousands voiced opinions and judge throws out lawsuit by frac-sand industry in Winona County

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Dust blows off a pile of frac sand at a mine near Chippewa Falls, Wis. Largely overlooked in the national debate over fracking is the emerging fight in the U.S. heartland over mining frac sand, which has grains of ideal size, shape, strength and purity. Mining companies say the work provides good jobs in rural areas, but some residents fear the increase in mining could harm human health and the environment. (AP File Photo/Steve Karnowski) Dust blows off a pile of frac sand at a mine near Chippewa Falls, Wis. Largely overlooked in the national debate over fracking is the emerging fight in the U.S. heartland over mining frac sand, which has grains of ideal size, shape, strength and purity. Mining companies say the work provides good jobs in rural areas, but some residents fear the increase in mining could harm human health and the environment. (AP File Photo/Steve Karnowski)

Judge dismisses companies challenge after year-plus battle 

A judge has dismissed a challenge to Winona County's ban on industrial frac-sand mining.

Thousands in the county voiced their opposition to Minnesota Sands attempt to set up mines there, saying it would destroy the environment and pollute the area.

Johanna Rupprecht with the Land Stewardship Project says they fought hard because of what they saw in Wisconsin communities.

"It's just (had) really devastating consequences," Rupprecht said. "The industrialization of rural communities, the destruction of land, water pollution.

"People are living next to frac-sand mines and processing plants and have the dust coming in and polluting their homes and making them sick already."

The ban from Winona County last year led to the lawsuit from Minnesota Sands.

"This is an example of the kind of thing the government should do more often," Rupprecht said of the judge's dismissal. "They listened to the public, who was calling for this action, saying that the frac-sand industry had no place in our community and the elected officials listened and acted on that."

Because of that, Rupprecht is somewhat confident the fight is over now after more than a year battling.

"From the lawyers we've been talking to, it seems like this is going to hold up and they're not going to be able to come in and exploit our county," she said. "

Ruprecht added that it is unlikely the company would win on appeal.

Last modified on Tuesday - November 21, 2017 2:28 am
Drew Kelly

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