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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • According to Oil Pro, oil prices rose toward $34/bbl, amid growing chatter about the possibility of OPEC and non-OPEC producers meeting to discuss cutting production levels to support prices. Brent hit $35/bbl after the Russian Energy Minister said Saudi Arabia had proposed cutting oil output by up to 5 percent by each country in order to bolster oil prices. Brent was about $6 higher than the 12-year low set this earlier this month, but it's still down approximately 10.5 percent in January following a 16 percent drop in December. Meanwhile, WTI was up $0.04 to $32.34/bbl, after settling the previous session up $0.85, representing a gain of 2.7 percent.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • According to the Jackson County Chronicle, a group of landowners has launched an effort to halt frac sand mining in Jackson County, Wis. A petition filed in Jackson County Circuit Court said county officials haven’t followed proper procedures for appealing zoning decisions and should re-consider a legal challenge made against a rail spur for sand transportation in the town of Adams, Wis.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • Comprehensive data compiled by a respected air-monitoring scientist demonstrates that people living near frac sand facilities are safe from exposure to hazardous levels of crystalline silica. A study conducted by Dr. John Richards of Air Control Techniques used 657 daily average PM4 crystalline silica measurements, almost two years’ worth of data, and it found the long-term average concentrations measured at seven sampling locations were only 5–20 percent of the levels considered hazardous by California and Minnesota health officials. That means these facilities pose no threat to public health.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • The University of Iowa’s (U of I) School of Occupational and Environmental Health held a public forum titled, “Assessment Of Health Risks From Community Exposure To Silica Sand During Sand Mining.” According to Tom Peters, a professor in U of I’s department of occupational and environmental health, his group obtained funding from the National Institute of Health for study of air quality near six frac-sand mines in Wisconsin. Over the past 18 months, in addition to setting up stationary air monitors, his group worked with the Trempealeau County Health Department to find homeowners who were willing to participate in the study. They sampled air near a total of 17 homes that were located within 2.5 miles of frac sand mines. Peters said his group’s exposure measurements show that a person’s risk is related to their exposure and the actual toxicity of the silica particles. He said while there have been many studies done on the toxicology of silica sand, there has not been a study on the type of sand specific to mining.

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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • The Winona, Minn., city council decided against requiring air-quality monitoring at frac sand facilities in the city, according to the Winona Post. Instead of requiring monitoring equipment, city leaders decided to focus on creating new dust management rules – requirements that loading facilities be enclosed, for example – and on better enforcement of the rules the city already has. Citizen groups have been pushing the city council to require air-quality monitoring at the fence line of frac sand facilities in Winona since 2013.

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