Winona County discusses potential ban on frac sand

Some residents in Winona County are asking for a ban on frac sand mining in the county.

At Tuesday night’s county board meeting, county commissioners discussed the possibility of a ban.

At the meeting, the first 45 minutes were taken up by public comment. Close to 20 people took their turn in line all either speaking for or against a ban on frac sand mining in the county. A majority wearing ban frac sand stickers.

Silica sand is the type of sand used for fracking, but Winona County District 3 Commissioner Steve Jacob said there are no mines in the county using or shipping silica sand for that use. He said most are mining the sand for construction projects, road work and animal bedding. Jacob said there is a big market in Winona County for silica sand.

“But our job is to be fair and balanced. I’m hopeful that we will bring forward good information. I think each board member will be very fair about deciding based on the information they receive whether it’s a good idea for our county or not,” Jacob said.

The Winona County DFL chairman, Bill Harris, wrote a letter to each county commissioner supporting a ban of frac sand mining in the county.

Harris said at the March 1 caucuses, 23 of the 49 Democrat precincts in Winona County passed a resolution saying the DFL should support a ban countywide.

“Our position as the DFL is just to tell them what our people are saying and what our people have asked us to present to the county,” Harris said.

Harris said he doesn’t view frac sand mining as a political issue, but said his letter to the commissioners is more about representing a large number of people within Winona County.

Commissioners in Winona County were not scheduled to take a vote Tuesday night unless a motion was made one way or the other.