Silica sand summit planned at Winona State

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WINONA, Minn. (AP) -- Opponents of the region's growing silica sand mining industry are preparing to convene a "citizens summit" in Winona on Saturday.

The event at Winona State University is being organized by the Land Stewardship Project so residents can share strategy and hear from experts.

The scheduled speakers include John Linc Stine, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Crispin Pierce, director of the Environmental Public Health Program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, who researches the hazards of silica dust.

Oil and gas drillers use silica sand in the hydraulic fracturing process. The silica sand under the bluffs and hills of southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin is considered some of the best available. But critics say the industry runs roughshod over rural communities.

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