U.S. Supreme Court turns down petition by Minnesota Sands LLC seeking to overturn Winona county’s ordinance banning the mining of frac sand.

U.S. Supreme Court Tosses Review of Minnesota County Fracture Sand Ban by Carolyn Davis, January 11, 2021, Natural Gas Intel

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition that sought to overturn a Minnesota county ordinance banning the mining of silica sand, which is used in some Lower 48 well completions.

Minnesota Sands LLC, which filed its initial lawsuit in 2017, was challenging an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court of Minnesota regarding Winona County’s ban imposed in 2016 (No. A18-0090). 

Five years ago Winona County banned sand mining that was commercially “valuable for use in the hydraulic fracturing of shale to obtain oil and natural gas.” However, the county still allowed the same silica sand to be mined for “local construction” uses. 

Minnesota Sands President Rick Frick at the time the company filed the initial lawsuit said, “Banning this type of mining based on the end use of this resource is not only unconstitutional, it takes away the rights of landowners and defies common sense…”

The ban has not changed the fact that the energy industry in the U.S. has dramatically recovered from recent economic challenges and there is now a growing need for the kind of silica we are lucky to have here.

“It has instead hurt people here and ignores the fact Minnesota already has a very rigorous and thorough approval and review process for any mining project.”

A divided Supreme Court of Minnesota last year ruled against the company and held that the ban did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce or Takings clauses. 

Minnesota Sands appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing a “conflict with clear rulings” for similar lawsuits.

In addition, Minnesota Sands said the state ruling threatened “an industry that is vital to the nation’s energy supply.”

Minnesota Sands noted that its owner-investors hold leases with more than 360 million tons of monocrystalline silica sand that meets the American Petroleum Institute, or API, specifications for use as a proppant in hydraulic fracturing.

“The sand in the region is unique because it is extremely hard and round,” the company said. “It is made up primarily of quartz, making the processed sand extremely valuable for use in energy production in states outside of Minnesota as well as other markets like glass production and foundry use.”

The Southeast Minnesota Property Owners (SMPO) also challenged the county ordinance last March. The group represents Winona County residents who own or had stakes in silica sand deposits/processing. SMPO filed a lawsuit in Minnesota Third Judicial District  claiming the ban violated “equal protection, due process and private property rights.”

Refer also to:

2021 01 26: Wisconsin: Judge denies frac sand mine permit; Rules regulator broke the law (as oil patch regulators do regularly, everywhere) when it granted Meteor Timber permit to fill 16 acres of wetlands

2020: Frac sand train yards and dust (harmful to health to breath in; cumulative COVID-19 impacts?)

“Gold Creek Reload,” 35 km south of Grand Prairie, Alberta:

Another yard, 25 km west of Grand Prairie, Alberta:

Photos by Will Koop. Are the workers wearing respirators? The frac industry lies, a lot and tells workers (and the innocent public) it’s safe, even when companies know it’s not.

2020 03 11: Minnesota Supreme Court upholds Winona County ban on frac sand mining, disagreeing with a local company that the 2016 ban infringed on their constitutional rights. Bravo to Winona County Board for their courage, integrity, ethics and stamina!

2019 12 18: Chippewa Co. Wisconsin: Arsenic levels at **bankrupt** frac sand mine 7 times higher than state cleanup standards; DNR has ‘reasonable concern’ heavy metals in holding ponds might have contaminated groundwater.

2019 09 01: Jackson Co, Wisconsin: Elevated levels cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, zinc were found in surface water samples after 400,000 gallows muddy frac sand mine spill into Curran Coulee Creek; Aluminum concentrations more than 17 times higher than upstream of spill site

42019 08 07: 400,000 gallons frac sand mine sludge spews into Class II trout stream in Wisconsin; Regulator knee high boots caked in yellowish muck, waits 3 days to take samples. Intentional waste management via dumping?

2019 05 08: Two workers killed at Source Energy Services’ Fox Creek Alberta Frac Sand Storage and Shipping Facility

2015 02 17: Husky’s frac sand proposal sent to environmental assessment, Company applying to drill for silica in North Arm area of Great Slave Lake

2014 07 27: CHILDREN PLAYED IN THE FRAC SAND! Go Back in Time with Alberta Health: Officials Issue Advisory More than one Month after 580 Tonnes of Frac Sand Spilled in Bashaw

2014 03 19: Victory Nickel’s commissioning of Seven Persons Frac Sand Plan underway near Medicine Hat, Rail deliveries of Wisconsin sand concentrate continue to arrive in Alberta

2012 11 29: Mining Corporation Looks to BC for Frac Sand Open Pit Mine

2012 07 24: Sand rush: Wisconsin frac sand mining sites more than doubled in past year

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