Red Wing, Minn., Mayor Dennis Egan was hired as executive director of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, triggering an outcry in his hometown.
Red Wing, Minn., Mayor Dennis Egan has been hired to run a new lobbying and trade group for the frac sand industry, triggering an outcry in his hometown just as it begins considering what position to take in a sand-mining debate that is emerging at the state capitol, according to the Star Tribune.
Egan he sees no conflict of interest and won’t step down while he works as executive director of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council. But Red Wing City Council President Lisa Bayley, a lawyer, said she has received many “complaints, questions and concerns”' from residents about the mayor’s new job as a paid advocate for an industry that is at the forefront of local concern.
The situation comes as the sand-mining industry is raising its profile at the Capitol amid a boom in silica mining. The sand council, a consortium of aggregate and trucking companies with interests in frac sand and gravel, has hired Twin Cities law firm Larkin Hoffman to lobby its cause. Egan, a professional lobbyist, also has registered in St. Paul to lobby for the sand council.
But Egan’s decision also occurs as debate rages up and down the Mississippi River corridor over the sand boom. In the past four years, more than 100 mines and processing facilities have been permitted in Wisconsin and Minnesota in a rush largely controlled by local units of government.
Egan said there are no applications pending before the city for frac sand facilities. The city ordinance that will regulate the industry was “put to bed” in October, and the sand council shares his position that “mining the bluffs on the Mississippi River is not a good idea.”
“In my mind, there’s not a conflict,”' Egan has stated.