Kathleen Vinehout On Frac Sand Mining Local Regulations Bill

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Kathleen Vinehout On Frac Sand Mining Local Regulations Bill

Premiere Date: 
October 25, 2013

Sen. Vinehout, D-Alma, weighs in on the bill that limits local regulations for mines.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

Here now, Democratic Senator Kathleen Vinehout, who opposes the bill limiting local regulation of sand mines. Thanks very much for being here.

Kathleen Vinehout:

It's my pleasure.

Frederica Freyberg:

You stated that you have more sand mining operations in your district than anyone else in the state, any other legislator. How are they as neighbors?

Kathleen Vinehout:

Well, some of them are pretty good, some of them are very bad. There's been a lot of problems. And part of the problem right now is that the DNR doesn't have enough staff to adequately regulate them, so they told the public, be on the watch. Let us know. And we heard testimony recently that even when the public lets them know, they don't always have the staff to respond.

Frederica Freyberg:

Well, so how have local ordinances mitigated some of the conditions caused by the mines that might be troublesome for neighbors?

Kathleen Vinehout:

It's related to being a good neighbor. So if there's going to be blasting, let the-- The good neighbor thing to do is let the neighbor know that the blasting is going to happen 24 hours ahead of time. Monitoring the geology of what happens before and after the blast is something that's important in this unique area, the Driftless Area of western Wisconsin. A lot of good neighbor issues are related to water and air. For example, if the well runs dry, the mine should re-drill the well for the local people.

Frederica Freyberg:

What about the argument on the part of, like Senator Tom Tiffany, that all of these kind of local ordinances around these mining operations create a patchwork of rules and regulations that make it very difficult for the industry to kind of grow?

Kathleen Vinehout:

Local government has always been responsible for regulating what happens on the land through zoning. Right now the local decisions are made in the gymnasium. The gyms are packed with people. People get to look in the eyes of the person making the decision. They know-- They see them, they know who to call. Under Senator Tiffany's bill making that decision at your local town hall would go away and be replaced by some nameless, faceless person in Madison, and that's not what local people want.

Frederica Freyberg:

What do you think it would mean for the health and safety of the people you represent?

Kathleen Vinehout:

Well, there are certain areas right now where there's a congestion of mines. For example, there are five mines within five miles near Arcadia. There are subdivisions right in the center of that area with many small children, and I've heard complaints from parents and local health officials who are concerned that that air is not being adequately monitored. And this bill would take away the locals' ability to pass an ordinance to monitor the air, which is very wrong.

Frederica Freyberg:

Now, are you opposed to frac sand mining in itself? Or do you just want it to be tightly regulated?

Kathleen Vinehout:

I want to make sure that local people have the ability to make the local decisions. Some mines are good neighbors. They've been there a long time. They work with the local community. I would say those mines probably don't have an interest in changing the way things are. But there's been an explosion of sand mines recently. Many of them are from out-of-state. There are lots of pickup trucks from Texas and all over. And these people come in and they run roughshod over the locals. And I fear this will get worse when local people don’t have the control.

Frederica Freyberg:

All right. Senator Kathleen Vinehout, thanks very much.

Kathleen Vinehout:

My pleasure. 


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