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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Frac Sand Mine Proposed Near School Sparks Battle

A nearly 400-acre open-pit frac sand mine has been proposed for a site less than half a mile from the school, and now those residents who welcome the mine's promises of wealth and prosperity have squared off against those who fear its consequences to their health, way of life and property values.

"The report, commissioned by the Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin Towns Association and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, concluded that jobs created by the frac sand industry will have little impact on the state's overall employment. "Take any projection, and it represents a total of about 1 percent of employment in an area," said the report's lead author, Thomas M. Power, who is a research professor and professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montana in Missoula. "Earlier experiences with mining didn't lead to sustained prosperity," added Power, referring to Appalachia and other mining regions that suffer persistent poverty. "We know something is going on with mining other than just high wages. Whatever that other thing is seems to cancel out the wealth produced and leave the area in very bad shape when the mining ends." [...]

"Dr. Brenda Tabor-Adams, an equine veterinarian in New Auburn, Wis., said that she has had enough second-hand experience of the mines that she is now ready to move: Her home is within a mile of multiple frac sand mines and processing plants. Silica dust and traffic congestion are a constant concern, she said, particularly with her 2-year-old son. "I have a truck going past my house every minute, all day long. Used to be that if someone drove by, it was probably one of your neighbors, and you'd wave to them," she said. As for the mining operation's financial benefits, Tabor-Adams said, "I personally haven't seen an influx of positive business or money into the community yet. I'm patiently waiting." She suggested that her town is "collateral damage" for the industry."