A local group of citizens concerned about the future of frac-sand mining in Winneshiek County is changing its focus.
At Monday’s meeting, the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors heard from Dick Jansen, representing the Winneshiek County Protectors.
“We are no longer concerned about whether or not there is going to be a frac-sand ordinance. That is already in capable hands,” explained Jansen.
“We are enlisting community support for the work the supervisors are doing.”
Janson explained his group is still concerned about frac-sand mining, but wants to be clear it is not intending to affect the mining of aggregate for roads or agricultural bedding.
“It’s about the work the supervisors are doing to regulate a critical land-use activity. Because of the scale and threats it poses to the (county’s) environment, well-being and existing resources, it deserves special attention,” said Janson.

Presentations available
Janson next showed a PowerPoint presentation to the Supervisors, which he said he has already presented to several area organizations throughout the community.
He said the WCP’s new mission centers around advocating for local control of frac-sand mining.
“Why would the state get involved. The counties where mining is a possibility are taking action,” he said, noting Allamakee and Winneshiek counties have instituted moratoriums and Clayton County is permitting frac-sand extraction.

Perceived weakness
Janson said the problems with state control included the fact state agencies are politically controlled.
In addition, he said state agencies act as proxies of industry to implement industry’s wishes, citing Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permitting, siting and operation; nutrient reduction strategies; failure to reduce the pollution of the state’s waterways; failure to reduce the number of impaired waterways and permitting industrial operations to pass on their pollution costs of operations to cities, municipalities and county governments.
In addition, he said any studies conducted by state agencies would include bias.

Benefits
Janson said conversely, local control engages citizens in government and gave the example of large petition drives (against frac-sand mining) in both Winneshiek and Allamakee counties.
He also cited large numbers of citizens in both counties attending local government meetings of the Supervisors and Planning and Zoning Commission and many citizens submitting letters to the editor.
Local control promotes government responsiveness to citizen concerns, i.e. moratoriums and planning and zoning amendments,” according to Janson.
He added maintaining local control results in effective action to address citizen concerns, referencing studies currently being conducted by the University of Iowa on the health impact of frac-sand mining.

Framework exists
Janson also explained how the existing legal framework in Iowa provides for local control by counties of land-use zoning ordinances.
In 1978, the Iowa Constitution was amended to give counties “home rule,” which means a county is free to legislate in any area they want unless it is specifically prohibited by a state law from doing so.
He also detailed “findings of fact” and “overlay districts” which he said the supervisors can use to maintain local control of frac-sand mining.

County is blessed
“We have stated publicly on several occasions, Winneshiek County is blessed with the current group of supervisors,” said Janson.
For more information about WCP, visit winneshiekcountyprotectors.com.