Anti-Sand Group Moves Forward on Lawsuit Inclusion

The Land Stewardship Project is moving forward with efforts to become involved in two lawsuits pending against Winona County, Minn., over its frac sand ban, according to The Winona Daily News.

The Land Stewardship Project submitted papers earlier this spring to intervene in the first lawsuit, filed in mid-March by Minneapolis-based law firm Larkin Hoffman. That suit seeks to nullify the amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance preventing the mining and processing of industrial silica sand.

In mid-June, the plaintiffs objected to LSP’s attempts to intervene in the case, which means they will need to apply through a formal process and receive permission from a judge.

Johanna Rupprecht, policy organizer for LSP, said the group is still moving forward with the process but does not have a clear timeline, and the objection was “not completely unexpected.”

Rupprecht reiterated that the Land Stewardship Project was seeking to be involved to represent their members and others who supported the frac sand ban and were involved in the year-long efforts to ban the industry in Winona County.

In the first suit, two parties are suing the county – a nonprofit formed in January called Southeastern Minnesota Property Owners, and Roger Dablestein, a Saratoga County resident who owns property in Winona County. The complaint alleges that Dablstein’s Winona County land holds “significant ‘industrial’ silica deposits, which are estimated to be in the range of 12 million tons located on approximately 38 acres.” The complaint said the ruling was “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious and violates the United States and Minnesota constitutions, including, specifically, the equal protection, due process and takings clauses of these constitutions and the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution.”

The second suit, in addition to challenging the constitutionality, also maintains that the state has already implemented enough controls on the industry. Minnesota Sands claimed when announcing the suit that its owner-investors have leases to more than 3,000 acres of land for sand mining at undisclosed locations – “one of North America’s largest deposits of high-quality silica sand that is in great demand by energy companies across the country.”

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