March on fracking - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

March on fracking

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WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- Some snowflakes weren't going to deter protesters in Winona from making a stop at the local frac sand facility Monday afternoon.  About 30 community members blocked the entrance of the facility, to stop the hauling of frac sand across the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.

Frac sand is a hot topic not only in Winona, but in the Southeast Minnesota region.  But the majority of the sand is being mined across the border in Wisconsin and hauled into Winona.

Some of the reasons the handful of Winona County citizens were protesting is the belief the trucks are causing too much damage to the roads and the mining is taking its toll on the environment.

"By the diversity of people here, this is a problem that is really affecting our town in lot of ways," said protester Mike Leutgeb Munson.  Leutgeb Munson was one of many who joined the march on fracking.  The group arrived at the railroad crossing leading into the frac sand facility and waited for that first truck to arrive.

When it did, the group locked arms blocking the entrance.

As one might expect, it didn't take long for the traffic to get backed up bringing the operations to a stand-still.

Facility property owner Richard Mikrut arrived just minutes after the first truck came to rest. "Trucking is interstate commerce. This product crosses state lines. And it's interstate commerce. And it's not legal to interfere with interstate commerce," he said.

Winona law enforcement arrived near the beginning of it all, keeping order to this non-violent response. "The property owner doesn't like that were are interfering with this operation here. So we have been asked to leave once," Leutgeb Munson told the crowd.

"It feels nice to see this stopped, even if it is just momentarily," said Winona resident and protester Alison DeNio.

Authorities stepped in as protesters were told to leave the property. The group soon disbanded and the trucks could now continue their routes, much to the displeasure of Doug Nopar.

"Winona County highway engineers has estimated that with just two small frac sand mines, it will cost county taxpayers $2 million a year for road repair," said Nopar.

The scene may have cleared. but Leutgeb Munson says they will be back.

"Until the city leaders start listening that this is bad for us and bad for our town," he said.

The entire incident lasted roughly 25 minutes before the trucks were able to continue their routes.

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