35 arrested at frac sand protest in Winona

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35 people protesting against the frac sand mining industry were arrested on trespassing charges and other minor offenses Monday morning at two locations in Winona, the Winona Daily News reported.

Winona Catholic Workers organized the protest, the newspaper reported. Protesters gathered at the intersection of Seventh and Lafayette Streets, then walked to the commercial harbor and a sand processing plant on Winona's west end.

Group spokesperson Molly Greening of the Catholic Worker Movement told KAGE-AM that protesters had intended to shut down operations. They prevented trucks from moving for about an hour, KAGE reported.

The protest was part of an annual celebration of the regional Catholic Worker community, and volunteers from Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin and other states in the Midwest were in Winona to participate, the Daily News said.

Frac sand is used as part of the process of hydraulic fracturing in which sand and water under high pressure are used to extract oil and gas from deep underground. Mining frac sand has proven controversial. Critics are concerned about environmental and health effects of the mining.

The industry, booming just a year ago, has slowed, MPR recently reported.

Minnesota state lawmakers have been debating how best to regulate the industry.

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About 30 people blocked the entrance to a loading terminal where semitrucks deliver frac sand to rail cars. The disruption comes on the heels of a similar protest last Thursday, the Winona Daily News reports.

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Winona Daily News reports the city is considering a set of restrictions for current and future facilities that handle frac sand within the city. The planning commission is proposing specific hours of operation; expectations of sand piles and designated truck routes.