A bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Beard (R-Shakopee) that would restrict the ability of cities, counties and townships to adopt interim ordinances that can delay development projects for up to two years has been approved by the House Government Operations and Elections Committee, according to a report by the Twin Cities Daily Planet.
The committee voted 9-5 to approve the bill and send it to the House floor.
Opponents of frac sand mining are among those concerned about the bill. They say it would restrict local governments’ ability to put the brakes on land developments and harm their ability to protect their communities, the report said.
Frac sand by definition is a type of industrial sand that can be used in deep well applications to prop open rock fissures and increase the flow rate of natural gas or oil.
In Scott County, there are two current proposals to mine frac sand. Great Plains Sands is located along the west side of Highway 169 between Shakopee and Jordan. The other, Merriam Junction Sands, is in an area of previous limestone mining operations just south of Highway 41 and west of Highway 169. Together, the proposals encompass approximately 1,200 acres.
The smaller proposed site (Great Plains Sands) is in the process of completing an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) and is expected to start the County’s permitting process later this spring. The larger site, Merriam Junction Sands, is just beginning preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
There will be a meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 13 in the Scott County Board Room to gather public comments on issues that will be considered within the Merriam Junction EIS.
The adequacy decision for the EAW for the Great Plains Sands project has not been scheduled yet, but is anticipated in early March as well, according to information on the Scott County website.