Although Minnesota may not have the natural gas and oil reserves to necessary to support a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry, Minnesota does possess a natural resource that is essential to the out-of-state fracking boom: sand. Silica sand, specifically. And demand for this type of sand has produced a parallel boom in states like Minnesota and Wisconsin where the sand is located. The prospect of Minnesota’s sleepy silica sand industry — along with its attendant environmental impacts — suddenly mushrooming has left municipal governments rushing to establish appropriate regulatory controls. To aid in this process, the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB), on December 13, 2013, released a document titled “Tools to Assist Local Governments in Planning for and Regulating Silica Sand Projects.” EQB issued the document in response to a May 2013 law passed by the Minnesota Legislature, now codified in Minnesota Statute 116C.99, subd. 2, requiring EQB to develop model standards to assist local government in developing ordinances regarding the mining, processing, and transporting of silica sand. The public comment period on the proposed  guidance document closed on January 13, 2014.

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