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State Senator working on compromise over frac-sand mine control

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin communities could keep more control over their frac-sand mines, under a compromise that's being worked on at the State Capitol.  

Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst rankled local leaders in October, when he proposed the state take away the towns' police powers to regulate silica-sand operations. He said the towns could still use zoning powers to set limits before mines are approved -- but very few rural towns have their own zoning, and Tiffany says he now realizes that.  

He's calling for "middle ground" and says it won't be easy to achieve. Tiffany has said that state control is needed because local governments have been too restrictive.  

However, Senate Republican Rob Cowles of Green Bay says the industry seems to be thriving despite the local ordinances -- and the bill would need a lot of changes before he could vote for it.

Wisconsin has over 110 frac-sand mines.  

Rick Stadleman, who heads the Wisconsin Towns Association, says he does not want to see towns' enforcement powers slashed in any major way.  

Rich Budinger of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association says he wants the state DNR to regulate air and water issues, and not local governments.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)