Frac sand at center of peaceful protests - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Frac sand at center of peaceful protests

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WINONA, Minn. (KTTC/AP) -- It was a small step for the big movement of the frac sand industry in Winona.  And just like any move in favor of the booming sand business, it was met with opposition at Monday's city council meeting.

The four action items were a couple weeks in the making.  However, before the council meeting, a peaceful protest was taking place on the city halls door steps.

An impromptu candle-light vigil was used as a symbol over sand.

"I think it shows that people are against the frac sand mining industry in Winona," said one protestor.  "Frac sand mining, processing, and transportation... we don't want any of it," explained another.

"We may be just at the beginning of this but we sure have a pretty good team," said protest organizer Diane Leutgeb Munson.

Leutgeb Munson has been pushing the effort for quite some time now.  "Yeah it's now been over a year and a half that we've been pretty involved. and when I say we I mean all these folks standing out here," she said.

Roughly 60 people rallied outside city hall.  While inside, the city council took action,  tightening the rules on frac mining, sand moisture testing, facility setbacks and traffic studies.

Three of the actions passed, the traffic studies were tabled for discussion to the next meeting.  So it may not have gone completely in Leutgeb Munson's direction on this particular night.  "We're hearing more and more that this is going to happen no matter what we do and we're choosing not to believe that," she said.  "We're trying to keep the hope alive."

With the passing of the amendments to the mining ordinance, the city of Winona has essentially ruled out mining within the existing city limits, while future mines will only be possible in annexed areas.

In the meantime, Allamakee County officials in Iowa have approved a temporary moratorium on frac sand mining just yesterday to extend the moratorium for at least 18 months to buy some time to further study the effects of mining in the area.

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