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Senate committee hears bill stripping local gov't authority over frac-sand mines

A pile of frac sand
A pile of frac sand

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A Wisconsin senator is forging ahead with his bill to take away most local government authority to regulate frac-sand mines. 

The Senate's mining committee, chaired by Hazelhurst Republican Tom Tiffany, will take testimony Thursday morning. 

His bill won't get final approval until next spring at the earliest, because the other house won't act on it until then.  

The bill nullifies a State Supreme Court ruling which allows towns to use police powers to regulate things like blasting, and the hours frac-sand mines could operate. Tiffany says local governments have exceeded their authority while being too restrictive -- and it would be a lot easier for the mining firms if the state took control. 

Communities could still use zoning powers on frac-sand projects -- but most places where mines are located don't have such zoning. 

Also, Senate Democrat Kathleen Vinehout of Alma says communities would no longer be able to reduce pollution from smokestacks -- and the bill makes it far too difficult for local officials to protect people's health and safety. 

GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he'll wait until next spring to take up the matter in his house. He says he favors Tiffany's measure, but he wants to hear all the possible ramifications before he forges ahead.

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