Vote over frac sand mining in Houston County is near

Houston County commissioners are expected to decide Tuesday morning

A moratorium in Houston County is set to expire this month putting a lot of pressure on commissioners to decide the future of frac sand mining.

In less than 24 hours, the debate over frac sand mining in Houston County could be over. County commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday on whether to restrict or ban frac sand mining all together.

The debate over frac sand mining in Houston County has been going on for three years with people fighting for what they believe is right for the county.

Just one day before the expected vote, those for and against frac sand mining are staying true to their cause and hope the county commissioners will vote in their favor.

“I make a living off the farm,” said Eric Johnson, a farmer in Houston County. “The winter time I just have my daily chores with my cattle.”

As a land owner and farmer, Johnson said his land is his livelihood.

“Most land owners around here know that you only get out of your land what you put into it,” said Johnson.

Johnson believes property owner rights should be protected, which is why he doesn’t want a ban on frac sand mining.

“I am not saying we can’t be regulated but I am against taking away someone’s income if they wanted to sell sand off their property,” said Johnson.

Those who are opposed to frac sand mining decided to get together on Monday to explain once more why they believe frac sand mining would be detrimental to the county.

“We’ve got lots of people trying to clean up the Root River basin and frac sand mining will destroy what they are trying to do,” said Ken Visger, a resident in Houston County.

“I don’t want to have air pollution and water pollution. I want to see the county stay the way it is,” said Ron Evensen, a former mayor of Houston.

Because it would be the first county in Minnesota to ban frac sand mining, one concern among some of the commissioners is whether or not a ban would be legal. However, supporters of a ban talked to an attorney from the La Crescent area who said it would hold up in court.

“The county commissioners have every legal authority to enact a prohibition and ban frac sand mining. Their insurance policy will stand behind them for doing what they have been elected to do and are legally authorized to do,” said Ed Walsh, a municipal attorney in La Crescent.

News 8 talked to one county commissioner on Monday, who said she has received numerous phone calls and emails over the past week from both sides of the argument.

Four out of five of the commissioners have to approve the proposed ordinance for it to take effect.