Judge’s dismissal of challenge to Winona County frac sand ban may encourage other counties bans

Kerry Clines

December 7, 2017

Frac Sand Mining SiteAfter a Winona County court dismissed a challenge to its ban on frac sand mining, other Wisconsin counties may consider a ban as well. Winona Daily News reports that Houston County Board chairman Jack Miller says he has discussed the ruling with Houston County Attorney Sam Jandt and plans to meet with Attorney Jay Squires to consider the implications and possibly change its frac sand mining policies.

“I don’t recommend a knee-jerk reaction,” Miller said at a county board meeting last week, according to the news agency. “We want to make sure, as we move one way or another based on what has occurred in Winona, that we do it with sound reasoning that makes sense for Houston County.”

However, Jandt advised opponents of sand frac mining the challengers of the Winona County ban have 60 days to launch an appeal, and that the ruling only applies to the specific situation in Winona County. An appeal might end up in the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“It would be great, in some senses, if this was appealed, because it would create some case law and give us some guidance and a template of what our options are,” Jandt said, according to the news agency. “This really is uncharted water.”

However, some Houston County Commissioners might not support a ban on frac sand mining, as Miller told the news agency that he would “rather not say” if he supported a ban. Another county commissioner, Fred Arnold, also declined to give his position, telling the news agency that he wanted to wait for further court action and noting that the county already has a “restrictive” sand mining ordinance. 

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Houston County Zoning Administrator Aaron Lacher told the news agency that there are currently no active frac sand mines in the county, but opponents want the county to ban frac sand mining anyway, citing environmental risks.

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