Updated: 05/30/2012 6:53 PM
Created: 05/30/2012 5:08 PM KSTC45.com | Print Story
By: Nick Winkler
About 70 people marched through Winona Wednesday protesting an exception the city made regarding its frac sand moratorium.
Southeast Minnesota sand is in great demand by oil and gas drillers who use the sand to puncture hard shale rock formations, it's called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, to release oil and gas in places like Texas and North Dakota.
The city of Winona placed a one year moratorium on new frac sand mining while it studies the impact the industry has on health, infrastructure, and the environment.
However, the city exempted its port from frac sand mining activity. Miners who were working prior to the moratorium can still transport and ship sand at the port, which the city profits from.
Protesters call this a loophole but the city says there was no oversight.
The port was exempted for good reason, the city says. First, it did not want to close off the third largest port in the state to miners. Second, the city says it was in the middle of moving to a newly constructed commercial dock and did not want to disrupt the move.
The city says its impact studies will likely be completed in November. Afterward, adjustments to city ordinances governing frac sand mining may be made if warranted.