Larry Sonnek, Red Wing
— I was in attendance at the State Capitol during the hearing on silica mining. I was impressed with the mining representatives from the Mankato area. They presented themselves well, indicating they have good relationships with their neighbors. Those relationships are envied by a lot of communities in Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota.
I do disagree with a statement made by one of the mining representatives, who indicated there are ample regulations already in place to adequately regulate mining interests. Having been deeply involved with this issue for two years, I can assure you that it is not true. State and local regulations intended to protect the people are inadequate, unenforceable or nonexistent. Local units of government in southeastern Minnesota are scrambling to address these problems.
My group in Goodhue County, Save the Bluffs, along with other groups, are asking the state for a moratorium on new silica mining and to produce a generic environmental impact statement. The purpose of the GEIS is to produce legislation to protect the people and environment in communities where mining interests demonstrate being a good neighbor ranks a distant second to making money. The GEIS can also provide uniform governance where needed and ease the burden of enforcement of regulations on local units of government.
With the potential of tens of billions of dollars of profits for the mining companies at stake, it isn’t incomprehensible that some mining interests will be tempted to forgo collegial relationships with neighbors and bully their way to what they want when they deem necessary.
We need the GEIS.