Minn. lawmakers to take up silica sand mining boom

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Critics of silica sand mining will tell lawmakers to hit the pause button when the Minnesota Legislature holds its first-ever hearing on the subject Tuesday.

Activists have chartered two buses from southeastern Minnesota for a joint hearing before the Senate and House environment committees. They're hoping to convince legislators that sand mining needs broader regulation than it now gets in Minnesota or neighboring Wisconsin, where the "sand rush" has been under way in earnest for several years.

They're seeking a moratorium on new mines, processing plants and transportation facilities so that Minnesota can study the environmental and other impacts of mining silica sand, which is used by oil and gas drillers for hydraulic fracturing.

Industry representatives say they'll be there too, to tell lawmakers they can work responsibly with communities.

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