ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has joined the board of directors of Smart Sand, a Pennsylvania company building a large silica sand plant in Wisconsin.
Smart Sand's 1,100-acre plant is in Monroe County in Oakdale near Tomah, Wis.
Reports say the plant expects to process more than one million tons annually of special silica sand, used by oil and gas companies for hydraulic fracturing because of its uniform size, strength and round shape.
Frac sand mining has grown fast in western Wisconsin, from five mines to 63 in the past two years, but it's drawn opposition on environmental grounds. Wisconsin regulators last week took steps to prosecute two companies for pollution violations.
Pawlenty is frequently mentioned as a potential vice presidential pick for Republican Mitt Romney.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)