Winona County Frac Sand Mining Ban Upheld by Appeals Court
St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Opponents of so-called frac sand mining in Minnesota have scored a major court victory.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals today upheld a Winona County judge's decision to dismiss challenges to a land use ordinance that bans all industrial mineral mining in Winona County. The ban targets companies attracted to Winona County by its large reserves of a type of silica sand that is ideal for use in the hydraulic fracture extraction of oil and gas, but because it covers all industrial mineral mining, the appeals court found it does not unlawfully infringe on interstate commerce and does not amount to a regulatory taking of property.
The ordinance was challenged by Minnesota Sands LLC, which had obtained a number of leases in Winona County for frac sand mining operations. A representative for Minnesota Sands has indicated the company is considering appealing the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
The Winona County ordinance does allow the conditional use mining of silica sand for local construction purposes, including materials used for road, building and landscaping projects.