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Monday, July 18, 2011

Opponents become vocal as number of proposed sand mines increases

From an article by in the Eau Claire Leader Telegram:

Three years ago, when Patricia Popple first became concerned about sand mines, convincing others to get worked up about the topic was anything but easy.

These days the 71-year-old retired elementary school principal-turned-anti-sand mine crusader has plenty of company.


As sand mines and proposals for mines have popped up across west-central Wisconsin in the past couple of years, so too have people concerned about the impact of those mines.

Mining companies have targeted this part of Wisconsin because the qualities of much of the sand here make it usable for extracting natural gas and oil in other parts of the U.S. The facilities are called "frac" sand mines, named for the hydraulic fracturing process used to extract the fuel.

Popple, of Chippewa Falls, helped organize the group Concerned Chippewa Citizens, which worked unsuccessfully to stop a sand-processing plant being built in Chippewa Falls.

However, the group has been successful in getting out the word about the potential quality-of-life and environmental issues that could come with industrial-scale sand mining.

In recent months Popple has been contacted by people in Lake City, Minn., Winona, Minn., Red Wing, Minn., Maiden Rock, Prairie Farm, Arkansaw, Arcadia, Whitehall, Monroe, and, most recently, Tunnel City near Tomah, sites of existing or proposed sand mines.

But fracing has been a contentious issue in many areas of the country.

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