The moratorium will begin August 30.
WHITEHALL, Wis (WEAU)--Trempealeau County says it's taking a step back from issuing sand mining permits to look at health concerns surrounding the mines
The county approved a moratorium --stopping all new permits from being issued for up to a year.
If you walk down the streets in Whitehall, there's no shortage of opinion on sand mining.
“I don't see nothing bad about it, it will bring jobs to the areas,” said Dan Marsolek, Whitehall.
“The people that want the mines are the people who are making the money,” said Shirley Roberts (Trempealeau Co).
Trempealeau County has approved a moratorium that puts a hiatus on approving any new sand mines in the county or the expansion of any existing mines in the area.
“In the last few years, we've had a lot of public hearings and people coming forward asking; at what point I am I in jeopardy for the ambient air quality around the mine,” Trempealeau County Director of Land Management Kevin Lien said.
Lien says the moratorium will give the county a chance to answer those questions.
But despite questions about the health effects of sand mine sites; the county has already approved 26 silica sand mines in the last three years. That’s more than any other county in the state.
"I think it’s a good idea that they finally voted it so that they can sit back and take a better look at things," said Tom Richter (Trempealeau Co).
Lien says the county is still working out details of the moratorium including who it exactly will affect.
“Last night (8/17), the Health Director read a state statute that if a municipality city or village has not adopted a health ordinance that the county would have jurisdiction. So they had the feeling and so did I that this Moratorium would apply county wide because it’s a health related issue. But I believe it’s the corporations counsels opinion last night because it would infringe upon their zoning ability that it would not apply and I’m not sure that that is a firm decision or if it will be challenged so the potential for annexations is there,” Lien said.
Lien says right now there are several mine permits in the works with the county. He says those stakeholders have until Friday, August 30th to complete their application or they fall under the new permitting rules.
Trempealeau County is taking a step back from issuing frack sand mining permits after approving more than another county in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the last three years.
An overflow crowd at Monday night's county board meeting erupted in applause when members voted overwhelmingly in favor of a moratorium of up to a year on permitting new sand mining projects or allowing existing mines to expand.
Supporters of the moratorium argued it will allow the county, across the Mississippi River from Winona, Minn., to evaluate the health and environmental concerns about sand mining. Without those answers, the county has approved permits for 26 companies mining and processing silica sand on more than 4,700 acres.