Not only is it Hizzonor’s Birthday today, but he now says he lives in Red Wing!  Imagine that!  Maybe he’s learning something in his old age?

More importantly, today both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health said in Comments to Winona County that a full blown Environmental Impact Statement is needed for the Dabelstein Yoder frac sand mine proposed in Winona County.

Minnesota Dept of Health Comment Letter February 6, 2013

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Comment Letter February 4, 2013

This snippet from the MPCA letter pretty much says it all:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) staff believes that the information provided in the EAWs is insufficient to fully identify and assess the environmental effects of the projects.  The MPCA believes the necessary information can be obtained and evaluated most effectively by preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  Consequently, we respectfully recommend that Winona County make a positive declaration on the need for an EIS for both projects and include within the scope of each EIS appropriate studies to abtain the lacking information as provided in Minn. R. 4410.1700, Subp. 2a, Item A.

The MPCA focused on “phased and connected actions,” looking at the multiple projects in the immediate area, operated by Minnesota Sands, LLC, and “cumulative potential impacts” addressing other projects that may interact with this one.  MPCA also listed many items where there was “insufficient” information.  What’s particularly surprising is that the applicants didn’t address air emissions, something that is so obvious, and which was an issue in the North Branch mining processing plant that was fined and shut down for operating without a permit.

The Dept. of Health was particularly interested in water,  including wells and groundwater quality, and again, air quality.  The MDH recommended a “Health Impacts Assessment” which would be a good way to characterize the issues and impacts on human health — as a part of the larger EIS — not in place of it.

This is an encouraging start.  Two state agencies have recognized the potential for significant impacts associated with frac sand mining.  Now let’s get to work and “do some digging.”  Can ya dig it?

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