Winona County Looking into Legality of Frac Sand Ban

Winona County, Minn., Attorney Karin Sonneman will advise the County Board later this spring on whether the board has the legal authority to ban new frac sand mines and processing facilities in rural parts of the county, according to the Winona Post. Her legal opinion could be the first step toward a vote on the issue sometime this year.

In a months-long campaign led by local environmentalist and sustainable agriculture group the Land Stewardship Project (LSP), citizens urged the County Board to enact a ban. County commissioner Steve Jacob suggested a different approach: let voters decide whether to ban frac sand in a referendum. Commissioner Marie Kovecsi said the question is when, not if, the County Board should discuss a ban.

Sonneman said she is looking into whether a ban would be legal, other options the county could consider, and factors the County Board should weigh when deciding. Sonneman described the question her office will attempt to answer this way: “What are the legal issues around banning?” Sonneman said her office is already drafting an opinion, but that it is still a long way from being ready for publication. Jacob said he had been told Sonneman’s opinion would be ready by March 1. Sonneman set a much less definite timeline: sometime this spring.

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