Winona County, conservation groups celebrate decision to uphold frac sand ban

A Minnesota District Court judge upholds Winona County’s ban on industrial mining, including frac sand mining.

In a ruling issued late last Friday, the judge dismissed the claims of fracking company Minnesota Sands and other property owners in southeast Minnesota.

The group tried to argue that the county’s ban on industrial mining deprived their land of “all economic value” and that the ban wasn’t uniformly applied, among other claims.

The judge disagreed with those arguments and sided with the county in her 21-page decision.

“This opinion totally repudiates all of those claims and confirms that a legislative body, in this case the Winona County Board of Supervisors, had the legal authority to control what’s best for Winona County,” said attorney Ed Walsh, who represented the Land Stewardship Project in the case.

Winona County passed the ordinance last year after a lengthy planning process.

The legal battle could continue if the fracking companies and landowners decide to appeal. They have 60 days from the day of the judge’s ruling to make that decision.