Report raises concerns for Wisconsin communities considering frac sand mining

By: Olga Michail Email
By: Olga Michail Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- New research suggests economic growth in rural communities that have sand mines falls short of what the industry promises.

The Economic Benefits and Costs of Frac-Sand Mining in West Central Wisconsin report urge Wisconsin communities to take a hard look at the costs and benefits of proposed mines. The report concentrates on jobs and tax revenue. But it also focuses on environmental and health impacts.
One of the researchers says people usually overlook that part of sand mining.

"Number of jobs associated with Frac Sand Mining so far in Wisconsin is quite modest and that's not surprising. Most mining these days is equipment and energy intensive," said Thomas Powers, professor with Economics Department at the University of Montana.

But Fairmont Minerals in Menomonie says it's created almost 30-jobs in 5-years. And almost all of those workers live in the area.

“When you look at impact, not only people that are employed at our facility but also other contractors that come in, all of our contractors, our truck drivers, our drillers, our blasters, our terminal operators are contracted- everybody from local uniform guy to the local UPS driver,” said Aaron Scott, plant manager.

The report was commissioned by the Wisconsin Towns Association, Wisconsin Farmers Union and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. It's designed to help rural towns weigh the pros and cons of Frac Sand Mining.

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