The Leaflet: Heartland Releases Frac Sand Mining Policy Brief

Published May 14, 2015


Heartland Releases Frac Sand Mining Policy Brief 

In Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, industrial sand, known as “frac sand,” mining has created thousands of high-paying jobs. Industrial sand mines employ engineers, electricians, welders, chemists, safety officers, managers, and accountants. Frac sand is a special silica sand used for hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking.” For over a century, industrial sand and gravel have been mined safely in the United States, but the recent frac sand mining boom has raised concerns about potential environmental impacts.

In a recent Policy Study, Heartland Institute Research Fellow Isaac Orr and geologist Mark Krumenacher address major concerns related to industrial sand mining. They examine alleged links between frac sand mining and air quality and the lung disease silicosis, groundwater depletion, contamination of surface waters and groundwater aquifers, and potential long-term damage to land, especially on land previously used for agriculture.

Orr and Krumenacher write, “For an informed discussion to take place, the public must have access to the best available information. Unfortunately, those raising fears of the effects of frac sand mining have taken advantage of the public’s limited understanding of the industrial sand mining process, limited recognition of the precautions taken to minimize potential environmental impacts, limited knowledge of geology, and lack of awareness of state and local regulations on silica sand production.”

Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast explains that frac sand mining provides significant economic benefits without posing unnecessary harm to human life or nature. “Silica sand mining can be done in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” Bast said. “State and local governments have done a commendable job working with environmental and industry leaders to craft legislation that protects the environment while permitting industrial sand production to move forward.”

The Heartland Institute – which also publishes a monthly energy and environment newspaper – is happy to send an expert to your state to testify or brief your caucus, help organize an event in your state, or distribute further information. If you have any questions or comments, please contact State Government Relations Manager Nathan Makla at [email protected] or call 312/377-4000.

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The April issue of Budget & Tax News reports the Federal Communication Commission has adopted so-called “net neutrality” regulations, voting to regulate Internet service providers as utility companies under the authority of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who voted against the regulation, says the plan is a solution in search of a problem.