More county regulators joining sand mining industry; leaving work backlogs, expertise shortages

More western Wisconsin counties are seeing their land use experts leave to take jobs with the sand mining industry. Mining companies are offering top dollar to the local experts who are familiar with the land, regulations, and people. The trend has raised concerns about the ability of local governments to regulate the boom in the mining of frac sand.

More county land use managers in western Wisconsin are leaving the public sector to join the sand mining companies they've been regulating. Mining companies are willing to pay a premium to gain the services of those who are most familiar with the land and local regulations. But the loss of those regulators leaves counties without their top experts when it comes to managing the boom in mining silica sand, or frac sand.

Counties, cities, and townships in southeastern Minnesota have been weighing the environmental risks against the economic benefits of the sand boom. Some have stopped issuing mining permits to allow more study of the environmental impact. A court order that would stop a sand mining operation in Houston County is pending in court.

Meanwhile, mining companies are eyeing frac sand deposits farther south in Iowa. But they're running into some opposition from neighbors there.

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