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Head Off Headlines Before they Occur

Frac sand producers, and aggregates operations hoping to begin producing frac sand, are to a certain extent, already defined by the frac sand producers that have come before them. In some cases, producers who do the wrong things become the ones with whom the community and national media take issue.

Case in point is a recent article creating a very negative perception that appeared in the Huffington Post. The article begins, “While flying back home to Wisconsin earlier this fall, Victoria Trinko had no trouble spotting her family farm from the sky. She simply looked for the frac sand mines that have begun to punctuate the rural Midwestern landscape.

“From the ground, tending to her cows, Trinko said she is more likely to feel, smell or taste the presence of those mines and the trucks hauling its powdery sands toward an expanding array of natural gas drilling sites. The sand is an essential ingredient in the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking process.

“When I walk in from the field, I can feel the dust on my face. This grit, I can chew it,” said Trinko, the town clerk for Cooks Valley, Wis. In October, about a year after a mine opened within a half-mile of her home, she was diagnosed with asthma.

“Trinko can't prove a connection, much as it's been tough for residents at the other end of the natural gas production line to definitively say that drilling has poisoned their air and water. But she is one of a number of Midwest residents convinced of the health hazards posed by the frac sand mining that has proliferated in tandem with fracking.”

Frac sand producers must make a proactive effort to be conscious of the environmental impact of their operations, and get involved in their community. Being environmentally responsible ­– and publicizing it – is the type of image-building that creates long-term benefits. Only by becoming part of the community, rather than working within it, can producers build the types of bridges that help develop a good – and less stressful – working relationship with community members.