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In surprising move, frac sand permit withdrawn amid opposition

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A company aiming to open a frac sand operation in Trempealeau County, Wis., near the southeast Minnesota border, withdrew the proposal this week after a loud public outcry, the Winona Daily News reports.

About 100 people flocked to a three-hour public hearing Wednesday, most to voice opposition to the 80-acre frac sand processing facility, the newspaper reports. Residents fret about health issues and property values, but were perhaps most upset with a proposed trucking route, which would have gone through the heart of Blair, Wis., population 1,300.

The company wasn’t expecting such a boisterous outcry – so the company withdrew its proposal for now, Scott Beers, the co-owner of Global Sand Link LLC, told the Daily News.

That's never happened before, Trempealeau County Zoning and Environmental Specialist Jake Budish, said.

But it's hardly over, the Daily News reported. The company aims to change its route proposal and rework the whole plan to win the support of residents, and then reapply for permitting.

Frac sand mining, which has grown rapidly in southeast Minnesota, has been highly controversial.

The fine-grained silica sand that’s found in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin is used by the oil and natural gas industries in a process called hydraulic fracturing. The sand, along with water and chemicals, is blasted into rock to extract oil and gas that was not accessible through conventional drilling.

Critics are worried about environmental and health effects of the mining, but industry advocates downplay the concerns.

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