Frac Sand Insider Conference draws opposition in La Crosse

Frac sand mining experts will be at the La Crosse Center Tuesday for the Frac Sand Insider Conference but those against the industry are already putting up a fight.

Frac sand mining has been a controversial issue for years. It’s the mining of sand which will then be used in the fracking process to get oil and natural gas out of the ground.

There are currently dozens of frac sand mines throughout Wisconsin. Those in favor of the business hope to grow the industry in the future, but those against it say it’s destroying natural resources and negatively impacting the climate.

It’s no coincidence that on the eve of a major frac sand mining conference in La Crosse those opposed to the industry are voicing their opinion.

“Our goals are to call on public officials in the tristate area to ban frac sand mining,” said Doug Nopar, land stewardship project.

Tuesday is the start of a two-day event, the Frac Sand Insider Conference, that will focus on frac sand mining.

“It’s really about telling people about their industry and their market. What is going on in the industry, what types of production specifics are the latest and the greatest right now, what types of equipment is being used,” said Mark Kuhar, the editor of Rock Products Magazine and organizer of conference.

This will be the third conference. The first two were in Pittsburgh but organizers have decided to move it to La Crosse.

“We are kind of bringing it into the bread basket of the industry so to speak,” said Kuhar. “When the glaciers receded, it left us the Great Lakes and left us a ton of glacial moraine in and around the Great Lakes, much of which is sand products. You have to produce the product where the product exists.”

Mother of three Lynnea Pfohl said frac sand mining should be banned because it destroys the environment.

“My family and community rely on local farmers, forests and waterways for food, we rely on coarse topography to filter our drinking water, we rely on our governments and public officials to serve the people and the land and water that can sustain us into the future if we keep those needs in mind. We do not rely on the frac sand industry,” said Pfohl.

“We have been producing sand for thousands of years. We wouldn’t have modern civilization. We wouldn’t have roads if it weren’t for sand because it’s used in the construction process,” said Kuhar.

Tuesday’s conference will be met with opposition

“We are going to fight the frac sand industry every step along the way, from now into the future,” said Ken Tschumper, Houston County Protectors.

But Kuhar said the opposition is welcomed.

“We’re huge believers in the First Amendment and people’s right to expression, so we absolutely welcome their side of the story, their input,” said Kuhar. “Hopefully we will engage in some discussions with them as the show goes on.”

The Alliance to Ban Frac Sand Mining will be holding a rally tomorrow outside of the La Crosse Center at 5 p.m.  However, they will be out there starting around 3 p.m.

The conference will start at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday and covers a variety of topics:

8:30 a.m. – Frac Sand Outlook and Perspective

9:30 a.m.- How to Open a Frac Sand Mine

1:00 p.m.- Current Research on Frac Sand and Related Natural Resources in WI

2:00 p.m. – Frac Sand Production Techniques

4:00 p.m. – Conveyor Improvements to Control Silica Dust