Campaign Wins Ban on Frac Sand Mining in Minnesota's Winona County

Posted Dec. 7, 2016

MP3 Interview with Johanna Rupprecht, policy program organizer with Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project, conducted by Melinda Tuhus


A region of rich soil and rural beauty is found in what’s called the Driftless area, where the four states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois come together on both sides of the Mississippi River in terrain that was never covered by glaciers. The hard, round grains of sand in that region are well-suited to be used in the oil and gas fracking industries and is thus in great demand. So-called “frac sand” is a necessary ingredient – along with hundreds of chemicals and untold billions of gallons of water – in the fossil fuel extraction process known as hydraulic fracking.

Opposition to frac sand mining has been building in the area for years, and on Nov. 22 the first countywide ban on the practice passed in Winona County in southeast Minnesota. The measure is a prospective ban to keep out all future such mining, including several projects that had already been proposed. However, under the legislation, one existing frac sand mine will be allowed to continue operating.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Johanna Rupprecht, policy program organizer with the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project. Here, she describes the damage frac sand mining has already caused in the region, and explains how activists won the campaign.

For more information, visit Land Stewardship Project at

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