According to the Houston County News, The Winona County, Minn., Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the first frac sand mine in the county. The 20-acre Nisbit mine site in Saratoga Township has been the subject of multiple public hearings dating back to October 2011.
The initial application was denied after the county approved a three-month moratorium in early 2012, and a second application was resubmitted after the moratorium ended in May. The county’s planning commission recommended approval in August 2012, but a group of residents successfully petitioned for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet to be prepared. The county board voted in April not to require an additional, more intensive environmental review called and Environmental Impact Statement, and a group of area residents subsequently filed a legal appeal to that decision. Nisbit mine operator Jeff Broberg said in an interview that the mine could begin operating later this month, or in July.
The status of proposed frac sand facilities in Fillmore County, Minn., are at a standstill with the exception of one near the town of Highland, Minn., which is just south of the mine in Saratoga Township that Winona County commissioners recently approved, according to Fox 47 TV. Chris Graves of the Fillmore County Planning and Zoning Department said there are currently four proposed mining sites inside the county's borders. However, the proposals are sitting on the state level in hopes of getting approved for an environmental impact statement.
According to WTAQ radio in Green Bay, Wis., a state official who has overseen the massive growth in Wisconsin’s frac-sand industry is resigning this week. 60-year-old Tom Woletz of Eau Claire, Wis., said he is not being hired away by the frac-sand industry. Woletz joined the state DNR in 1975. In 2011, the senior manager took charge of enforcing state laws on frac-sand – then a relatively new phenomenon. Under Woletz, Wisconsin has developed 105 frac-sand mines – the most in the nation – plus 65 processing sites.