According to the Associated Press, a proposed rail shipping hub for sand used by the oil and natural gas industries took a major step forward as the Wabasha, Wis., City Council has rejected a request to commission a study on the environmental risks that the sand and hundreds of trucks a day would bring to town. Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based Superior Sand Systems Inc. plans to build a storage and loading facility along the Canadian Pacific tracks, from which silica sand mined in Wisconsin would be shipped to North Dakota and Texas. The facility could take in 200 to 300 truckloads of sand a day and run seven days a week.
Three environmental groups have sued the state of Illinois in a last-ditch effort to stop a controversial frac sand mine from being built near Illinois’ most-visited state park, according to Midwest Energy News. In their lawsuit, the Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network and Openlands demanded that the court reject a surface mining permit issued earlier this year by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for an 80-acre, open-pit sand mine planned directly adjacent to Starved Rock State Park in Ottawa, Ill. The company developing it, St. Louis-based Mississippi Sand, has been approved by state agencies to receive three permits to move forward with the mine. Two of those permits, including the IDNR permit, have been issued. The third, from the state’s Environmental Protection Agency, has been approved but reportedly has not yet been issued.
A decision on a permit to allow a large frac sand mining operation within the protected Lower Wisconsin Riverway is on hold pending a legal opinion. The Riverway Board, of Muscoda, Wis., has delayed action on a permit application from Pattison Sand Co. and asked for guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, according to Riverway Executive Director Mark Cupp. Existing rules allow surface mining within the 92-mile Riverway corridor as long as the operation is not visible from the river itself. The Riverway protection law as initially written in 1989 prohibited surface mining but was changed in 1994 to allow rock quarrying by several companies and local towns, Cupp said.