Minnesotans value strong local control and our rural communities are better off because of it. But local control is at risk because there is a bill backed by corporate special interests that would weaken township and county rights.
It was a good thing for southeast Minnesota that strong local control was possible when mining interests started buying property for the mining and processing of frac sand. Goodhue County and Florence Township exercised this control by using the interim ordinance power to enact a moratorium on mining so we could study the issue and see how this new type of mining would impact our community. Wabasha and Winona counties used their local control powers and enacted moratoriums too.
Why were moratoriums sought? Because frac sand mines and processing centers are different than the aggregate mining we have now. They are huge, operate 22 hours a day all year, use high volumes of water and produce a fine dust associated with silicosis.
We need to understand if this type of mining fits into our community. The moratorium gives us time to study the issue and make changes in our ordinances so that this industry can be managed in a way that will protect the health, welfare and safety of our citizens.
But House File 389 and Senate File 270 would gut the power to enact a moratorium. These bills will make projects that merely apply for a permit exempt from a moratorium enacted after that.
The problem is that often the first time neighbors, township officers and county commissioners hear about a project is after the permit application is filed. If these bills pass that would be too late to enact an effective moratorium.
House File 389 was the first bill heard this year in the House Government Operations Committee. Because of strong opposition the bill was tabled but it will likely come back up.
Legislative leaders need to hear from you that Minnesotans value strong local democracy that favors community rights over corporate rights. If you want to keep local control strong, call the Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem at 651-296-3903 and House Speaker Kurt Zellers at 651-296-5502 and tell them to keep township and county rights strong and don’t let House File 389 or Senate File 270 pass.
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