A western Wisconsin lawmaker wants the state legislature to play a bigger role in regulating frac sand mining. State Senator Kathleen Vinehout will introduce five regulatory bills involving frac sand this session.
Other than air and water permits, all frac sand mining regulations are born at the local level. But State Senator Kathleen Vinehout of Alma says that creates a patchwork of different rules and provides loopholes for frac sand mining companies.
"Some of my colleagues — both Democrat and overwhelmingly Republican — have said, 'let's let the local people deal with it.' Let's let them decide what the rules are going to be. I don't happen to agree with that, but at least at the moment I happen to be in the minority."
Last session Vinehout introduced two frac sand mining bills aimed at alerting neighbors when frac sand mining firms seek permits and forcing public hearings during the approval process. Both bills, however, died in committee. But Vinehout says she's reintroducing those and three others that would create an 1,800-foot setback from sand mining property, require sand prospectors to publicly register and require realtors to disclose if frac sand mines own property nearby.
"I think these are common sense bills. I'm attempting to find that middle ground and it's something that our neighbors and friends in western Wisconsin really want."
Vinehout says she hopes to introduce the bills in the next few weeks.