Huffington Post Reporting on Glenwood City Frac Mine Controversy

[first published on WIvoices.org]
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On June 18, 2013, Mark Oberhelman ( left ) chaired the Glenwood City Mining Ordinance Committee as it continued drafting a non-metallic mining ordinance for the western Wisconsin city. The ordinance would likely be used to regulate the “Vista” frac sand mine being proposed 1/2 mile from the school, which employs approximately 100 staff and educates 650 students.

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As reported last week by Lynne Peeples of the Huffington Post, several points of controversy surround mining in Glenwood City, WI, including the proximity to the school and the village of 1200 people.

Other troubling issues cited by locals include the selection process of the mining ordinance committee members, which many feel is not an adequate representation of the feelings of the community, and the push for annexation of the mining site which would transfer the regulatory responsibilities from the experienced members of the St. Croix County Land Use and Conservation Department to the inexperienced, local City Council.

The city government runs out of a doublewide trailer,” said café own Jim Laskin to Huffington Post, “They are in no position whatsoever to regulate a billion-dollar business.”

WI Voices reported these dynamics in a May 17, 2013 article, picked up by the Huffington Post who reported that “residents who welcome the mine’s promises of wealth and prosperity have squared off against those who fear its consequences to their health, way of life and property values.”

As captured in this WI Voices video of a public meeting in February, property owner and Qwik Trip CFO Scott Teigen and Mayor John Larson explain that the promise of 50-60 jobs and a payout for the city in the range of $250 thousand is too good to let “slip away“.

However, grumbling throughout the community emphasizes the lack of voice for regular people in the frac sand mining approval process, which may lead some parents to make life-changing choices.

Resident Julie Augeson, mother of young twins said, “If that (mine) goes in near my kids’ school, I’m pulling them.”

Natasha Larson, mother of an asthmatic child agreed, “We will move. We will not stay.”

The Huffington Post article also hinted at troubling conflicts of interest that only add fuel to the local fire. Peeples reports that resident Chris “Schone suggested that he knows town officials who have “done a 180″ on the issue. He suspects some swings are due to the discovery of valuable sand under those officials’ own property.”

The most up-to-date meeting of the Glenwood Ordinance Committee can be heard on the audio below captured at the Tuesday, June 18th meeting of the Glenwood City ordinance committee; listen HERE.

To view the draft of the Glenwood City non-metallic mining ordinance as of 6/17/13, click HERE.

The Glenwood City Council has the prerogative to accept, reject, or modify the final draft of the non-metallic mining ordinance once presented. The next meeting of the Glenwood City Council is July 1, 2013.

Want more info? WIvoices.org Reference Document

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