Wisconsin Public Radio is great. Isn’t it? Except when it really isn’t.
I must comment on a recent piece by Rich Kremer entitled “Minnesota Considers 1-Year Frac Sand Ban; Companies Consider Wisconsin Instead”.
A quick examination of the article should reveal to any reader that only frac sand business boosters were consulted – though I would HOPE that the reader/listener would get the notion that there MUST be something serious afoot given that Minnesota is discussing a “moratorium” – a ban – on an entire industry.
Any details on that ban? Here: “Supporters say the bill gives the state and local governments time to learn about the industry before it takes hold like it has in Wisconsin.”
Our neighbor Minnesotans are broadcasting why frac sand mines need to be stopped in a public hearing, but we get none of the details. Nada. Zilcho. ZIP.
Outside of that, we only hear from John Behling and Minnesota State Senator Michelle Benson. Ms. Benson would bring back DDT if she could and John Behling is an Eau Claire attorney who represents the frac sand industry through Weld, Riley, Prenn, & Ricci.
That’s the same firm that presented a talk entitled, “Moratoria Madness: A Look at Wisconsin’s Regulatory Climate” [the once public link to that talk on their site has recently been taken down].
Democratically instituting a ban on frac sand mining at the local level for a temporary time period is “madness” to that firm? That’s really profitable madness for Behling. Their bread and butter is taking those apart the way they did the moratorium against frac sand mining in Eau Claire County.
An attorney from Behling’s firm by the name of Paul Millis had a hand in mucking up a moratorium in Franklin township in Jackson County – though it’s not clear if the fact that Paul Millis literally has trouble keeping track of any paperwork that says “moratorium” on it is deliberate. Millis has served as Franklin’s attorney AND as the surrounding county’s attorney while ALSO working for Behling’s moratoriums-are-madness firm.
Conflict of interest much?
He could get reported to the Lawyer Regulation office. Interestingly enough, Mr. Millis is guarding that hen house as well: He is on the District 5 Committee of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Office of Lawyer Regulation.
Returning to the story at hand: what did Mr. Behling the lawyer for the frac sand industry say?
“So I think mining entities, when they read the news clips and do their due diligence research, they’re going to come to the conclusion that Wisconsin is open for business: Minnesota, maybe not.”
I’m a big meanie
Perhaps I’m being too harsh with the young WPR reporter. Perhaps our intrepid reporter Mr. Kremer is really new to the area – just started yesterday – unaware of why in the world a moratorium on frac sind mining might emerge.
Nope. Let’s keep it simple (which is still a lot of work) and let’s just review stories from 2012.
In January 2012 he talked to Kathleen Vinehout and Scott Suder about frac sand mining.
Here’s the February 28, 2012 piece Mr. Kremer did on an appeal the Eau Claire’s City-County Health Department made to the EPA to create an a federal standard on silica dust emissions in the outdoors. (Right. All that dust blowing off of the mine sites into neighboring homes is entirely unregulated. Hope nobody is getting silicosis. There is no cure for that once you get it.)
There was that March show on the “legal development agreements with frac sand companies, used police powers to enact non-metallic mining ordinance and passed moratoriums to temporarily ban new sand mines” [GOSH ‘n’ GOLLY those people sound DESPERATE to get some control on that, don’t they? I wonder if the fact that there is ZERO help from the DNR or State had something to do with it?].
I see there was an April show that made mention of the “bill limiting the authority of local governments to enact moratoriums on things like frac sand mining operations”.
There’s Kremer’s show on June 21, 2012 which contains info on the “effects of Frac sand mining on local streams”.
Look – there’s a June 14 show that’s chock-a-block with science-y and nature-y stuff:
“Western Wisconsin’s groundwater and the increasing demand on it was discussed on The West Side. Host Rich Kremer was joined by Department of Natural Resources Hydrogeologist Larry Lynch, Chippewa County Conservationist Dan Masterpole and UW-Extension Crops and Soils Educator Jerry Clark. Guests identified the different aquifers present in the region and the many draws including increasing population, heavy agricultural use and the increasing demand for water by frac sand mining and processing operations.”
And sand mining even slipped into a moderated debate between Republican incumbent Erik Severson and Democratic challenger Adam Bever back in September of 2012.
So it is that I assume that WPR reporter Rich Kremer does have within his possession more than a few contact numbers for individuals who could comment directly on EXACTLY WHY Minnesota is pursuing a frac sand mining moratorium.
But who knows? Maybe he could use a few more! Here’s his contact information: 715-839-3869 – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have information on frac sand mining to pass to Mr. Kremer and if you would like to share your phone number so that you’re who he calls when it’s time to hear from somebody who gives a flying f*** about balancing the interests of frac sand miners with the preservation of environment and human health, well, feel free to chat with him.