The Leaflet – Heartland Releases New Policy Study on Roadway Impacts of Frac Sand Mining

Published October 2, 2015


Heartland Releases New Policy Study on Roadway Impacts of Frac Sand Mining

Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have as many as 9,000 non-metallic mines in operation. There is approximately one mine for every 3,000 residents in these states, and the mines have operated without any significant problems or opposition – until recently. Many environmental groups are now opposing the industrial sand mines due to the growing demand for the industrial silica sand used in oil and natural gas development, referred to as “frac sand.”

This week, The Heartland Institute released a Policy Study discussing the roadway impacts of frac sand mining. Some advocacy groups have said the growing amount of frac-sand-related traffic, especially from large trucks and construction equipment, on many Upper Midwestern roads has caused significant damage to local and state roadways.

This Policy Study is the third in a series addressing frac sand mining topics. The two previous studiesare: Environmental Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining” (May 2015) andEconomic Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining” (June 2015).

In this Policy Study, titled “Roadway Impacts of Industrial Silica Sand (Frac Sand) Mining,” Heartland Institute Research Fellow Isaac Orr and Mark Krumenacher, a senior principal and senior vice president of GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., specifically address the potential impacts of frac sand mining on public roadways.

Orr and Krumenacher write, “Because local units of government generally have the primary regulatory responsibility for industrial sand mining in the Midwest, this Policy Study is written especially for them and the constituents they serve. It addresses the potential impacts of industrial sand operations on the public roadways and provides an overview of successful methods used to minimize those potential drawbacks while maximizing the benefits of industrial sand mining to the community.”

Orr and Krumenacher discuss the main factors that influence the lifespan of a road; examine a case study of road upkeep and maintenance agreements from Chippewa County, Wisconsin; and consider the historical impacts of transporting industrial sand in four Midwest states. They write, “Local officials … have the statutory authority and adequate tools to protect public infrastructure used by industrial sand operations and other industries. Industrial sand operators have spent millions of dollars upgrading and maintaining local and county roadways to meet their needs for transporting industrial sand and providing safe and efficient transportation for members of the community.”

Municipalities: Broadband Is Not a ‘Core Utility’
In response to a recent White House report that municipality broadband is a “core utility… like water, sewer and electricity,” Scott Cleland, the president of Precursor LLC, argues broadband services are not utilities and must not be treated as such. “In sum, if broadband is not a ‘natural monopoly,’ it is unnatural to subject broadband to monopoly utility price regulation, and for a municipality to force a government subsidized, favored, and advantaged broadband network on a competitive broadband marketplace. Any fair and fact-based analysis by a municipality will confirm that broadband networks do not have any of the natural physical or economic characteristics of public utility services. The relevant facts here are clear: competitive broadband service is nothing like water, sewer or electricity utilities.” Read more

Budget and Tax
California, Texas Share Big Pension, Retirement Liabilities
Sheila Weinberg, the founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting, examines how elected officials in California and Texas have chosen to ignore the mounting debt of their government worker retirement programs in this Heartlander article. Weinberg argues the real debt of these states is obscured by the state government’s use of outdated accounting practices. “They plan to pay off services being used today at some point in the future by charging them to future taxpayers. This defies the intent of their states’ constitutional requirements for a balanced budget, and it ultimately forces their states’ taxpayers deeper into debt.” Read more

College Board Rewrites Advanced Placement U.S. History Standards and History Itself
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Energy and Environment
Report: Solar Industry Headed Toward a Financial Bubble
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Health Care
Ohio’s Medicaid Spending Increasing Rapidly Under Gov. Kasich
Kenneth Artz, writing for Health Care News, examines the rapid increase of Medicaid spending in Ohio under Gov. John Kasich (R), who is currently campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. Since Kasich took office, his state’s annual Medicaid spending has increased by around $6 billion, an increase of 30 percent from 2011–15, according to the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

“Averaged across Kasich’s first two budgets covering fiscal years 2012–13 and 2014–15, Medicaid spending increased by 7.4 percent per year.  According to Kasich’s administration, Ohio’s Medicaid spending increased by 4.1 percent in fiscal year 2012; 2.5 percent in 2013; 10.6 percent in 2014; and 12.5 percent in 2015.” Read more

From Our Free-Market Friends
Media Research Center Study Reveals that CNN Spent 78 Percent of Prime Time GOP Campaign Coverage on Trump
A Media Research Center study finds, over a two week period, coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign took up nearly 78 percent of all CNN’s prime time GOP campaign coverage – 580 minutes out of a total of 747 minutes. All 16 non-Trump candidates received a combined total of just 167 minutes. More than half of the remaining candidate coverage, almost 12 percent of the total (88 minutes), went to Jeb Bush. Twelve of the 17 candidates received less than one percent of the coverage. Read more




The September issue of School Reform News reports the North Carolina Supreme Court found the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program to be constitutional. Dick Komer, senior attorney for the Institute for justice, noted “The decision is important for all of the schoolchildren in North Carolina, because by allowing low-income families to attend private schools, the public schools will be forced to take those low-income students’ needs more seriously.”

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