The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

May 14, 2013

DFL lawmaker: Compromise reached on frac sand regulations


"We've gotten a lot accomplished this session. It's not exactly what we proposed, but as I've maintained from day one, I'm not married to any particular provision as long as in the end we get it right," he said. "We fought as hard as we could for what we thought was right, and I think the package we're leaving with is a pretty strong one."

The Land Stewardship Project and many southeastern Minnesota groups had hoped state lawmakers would adopt a one-year statewide moratorium on frac sand mining while the impacts were studied more thoroughly. That proposal stumbled, especially after Dayton said he opposed a moratorium.

A House proposal that would place a tax on silica sand production also appears to be losing steam. The tax won't be part of the overall tax bill, said state Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook.

Skoe, who chairs the Senate Tax Commiittee, said that as it's currently written, the tax could drive business out of the state and add wear and tear to roads at the same time.

"If you do a tax on production, and then do a tax on the processing, and have this compounding effect, you potentially could be encouraging mines that are just trucking out of our state and damaging the roads," he said. "You don't want to do that; people don't have an understanding of the way to do that yet, and I think we'll spend the summer trying to figure this out."

Skoe said the tax measure needs more study. It was introduced in the House but not in the Senate. It's still possible it could be added to the game and fish bill, or the omnibus environment bill.

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