St. Paul director to host hometown premiere of frac sand documentary


The controversial frac sand debate is the subject of a new documentary film by a St. Paul director that will premiere locally this week.

Jim Tittle's "The Price of Sand" is scheduled to screen Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Grandview Theater in St. Paul.

The 57-minute film takes a look at the silica sand mining boom in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Both states have large deposits of pure silica sand, a necessary element in hydraulic fracturing, known more by the term "fracking."

The film's release comes as the Minnesota Legislature considers a one-year moratorium on silica sand mining. The Legislature want to further study of potential impacts on health and the environment, as well as possible disruptions to the tourism industry.

Gov. Mark Dayton said last week that he doesn't back a moratorium on frac sand mining, but would consider posing regulations "if the industry starts to spiral out of control."

Tittle's documentary covers the controversy with original interviews, coverage of recent events and local music about frac sand mining.

According to a press release on the film, Tittle became interested in frac sand mining after an oil company secretly acquired land near his mother’s house in Hay Creek Township, near Red Wing, and when the company announced plans to build a 150-acre open pit industrial silica mine.

Once neighbors started to organize to stand up the oil company, Tittle learned that mines were already operating in nearby Wisconsin.

As a result, Tittle produced a series of short YouTube videos on frac sand mining which attracted more than 10,000 views in the first three months, and currently exceed 55,000 views.

Tittle started to work on "The Price of Sand" in November 2011 after he raised $6,800 in crowd-sourcing efforts.

According to the release, the film tells the stories of real people, and features interviews with more than four dozen business owners, small town mayors, farmers and truckers.

"The real price of frac sand, not just in dollars, but in lives, communities, and the future of our region," Tittle says.

See the trailer for "The Price of Sand" below.

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