Frac Protestors Take Petition to Capitol

Updated: 04/22/2014 7:18 PM
Created: 04/22/2014 7:00 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Dozens of anti-silica sand activists chose Earth Day to make a statement at the capitol. Their message was clear, stop silica mining now. The group gathered thousands of signatures to back up their effort bringing it directly to Governor Dayton.

"I was concerned because there were proposals for a number of mines in Houston County. A number of them in the valley next to our valley," said Houston County activist Marilyn Frauenkron-Bayer.

"If you have a hauling facility that’s over 10 to 15 years old in a neighborhood where literally those houses are just hundreds of feet away, those residents are going to be inhaling silica sand," said Wabasha activist Lynn Schoen. To these people, it's personal. They traveled to the capitol to share why they think the state should put a hold on silica sand mining.

"Silica is a known carcinogen. There's no cure for silicosis, the only thing you can do is have lung replacements," said Frauenkron-Bayer. They're concerned for their health, but also the impact silica sand facilities would have on their small communities. "Our little town of Houston would drastically change into an industrialized zone as opposed to the nice peaceful rural community we so enjoy," she said.

Tuesday showed they're not alone in that thought. They brought with them more than 6,000 petitions asking for a two-year moratorium. "The moratorium is part of the Critical Areas Act. It's a two-year moratorium. That's what the petition is asking for as well," said Frauenkron-Bayer.

However, after the press conference, those activists received some unwelcome news from the governor's office. "I just got a statement from the governor's office saying they don't have the authority to do this, and we don't think that's accurate," said one of the activists to the crowd after the press conference.

Governor Dayton told us personally he's against silica sand mining, but says he doesn’t have much of a say on the matter this legislative session. "The fact that it didn't pass and they didn't get behind it, according to my general council, is strong evidence that any court would look at it and say I'd be exceeding my authority if I turned around a did something a year later that I tried to get through the legislature and it was rejected," said Governor Dayton.

"There are so many more things than the state measures. We want them to take their time and do it right," said Schoen.

The petitions also called for tougher state regulations to protect air and water quality from silica sand mining. Though Governor Dayton seemed to think this isn’t "do-able" this session, the activists there say they're not giving up and have sent the governor a letter requesting to meet with him privately at a later date.