Property Owners Challenge Minnesota Frac Sand Ban

A group called Southeast Minnesota Property Owners and Roger Dabelstein, a resident of Saratoga Township in Winona County, Minn., filed a lawsuit in the Third Judicial District Court against Winona County over the frac sand ban passed by the county last year, according to the Post-Bulletin.

On Nov. 22, 2016, the Winona County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to enact a ban of industrial mining of silica sand for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing. The ban ended mining, transporting and processing silica sand for the purpose of fracking but allowed those activities for other uses of silica sand such as cattle bedding or construction.

Commissioner Steve Jacob, who often argued a ban could open the county up for possible litigation, commented he was not surprised to see the suit brought against the county.

Johanna Rupprecht of the Land Stewardship Project, which lobbied for the ban, said that the lawsuit is an attack by outside corporate interests on Winona County’s democratic decision, and it’s outrageous.

The complaint maintains that passing a frac sand ban was “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious and violates the United States and Minnesota Constitutions, including, specifically, the equal protection, due process and takings clauses of these constitutions and the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution.”

“They’re banning certain kinds of sand mining, but other kinds are okay as long as the end use is okay,” said Gary Van Cleve, an attorney for Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren, the Minneapolis-based law firm hired by the plaintiffs. “There’s no rational basis for that.”

Others opposed to the ban, including representatives of the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, have also argued that the restrictions constituted unconstitutional takings.

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