Social Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining: Land Use and Value

Published February 16, 2016

The “social” impact of sand-mining operations, including their impact on land use, scenic beauty, and property values, can be a sensitive topic. Emotion and opinion, rather than technical facts and scientific data, tend to dominate the discussion.

Heartland Institute Research Fellow Isaac Orr and Mark Krumenacher, a senior principal and senior vice president of GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., take the sensitive nature of this topic seriously and address it thoughtfully in the enclosed Policy Study, the fourth in a series addressing frac sand mining topics.

Orr and Krumenacher briefly discuss the importance of mining and raw materials in our lives and explore concerns commonly expressed about mining as an industry. They describe four ways local elected officials can understand the emotional reactions a community might have to a proposed new development – mental noise, perception of threats, elements of trust, and dominance of negatives – all of which can make it difficult for individuals to examine an issue rationally and can cause them to become unnecessarily concerned.

The Policy Study specifically addresses the potential impact of industrial sand-mining operations on quality of life, tourism, scenic beauty, and property rights. Orr and Krumenacher conclude:

Although opponents of mining often cite the potential impacts of sand mining on property values as a reason to restrict or ban mining operations, this Policy Study concludes many mining companies are already addressing these concerns with local officials, who have adequate tools at their disposal to manage the impact of sand mining on their communities..