On Hi capacity wells & sand mining

Open Letter on High capacity wells and sand miningDate: Sat, 15 Jun 2013 15:43:33 +0000 (UTC)From: Jane Justesen To: Rep.Bernier@legis.wisconsin.gov As a concerned citizen of Augusta, WI I am asking that you remove the amendment to the state budget that prevents citizens from expressing their concerns about the number and location of high capacity wells. If you unfamiliar with our area of the state we would ask that you come and witness what is happening to our little piece of the world. We are being invaded by sand companies who are only here to rape the landscape but to remove a product that is essential for the area’s well being. They have no vested interest in our land except to remove the sand as fast as they can before it is discovered that they indeed have polluted our water supply, our air, and left a usable resource totally unproductive for at least 3 generations. To submit to the power, the money contributions from the mines, and the political influence of these companies is incomprehensible. Are you aware that the money contributed to political officials in the last couple of years has increased from $17,000 to $400,000. What does that tell you? We are at the grassroots level are trying to protect our land, our air, our water, our very existence. I belong to two organizations: Concerned Citizens of Bridge Creek and Citizens for Environmental Stewardship. We struggle financially to just keep placing ads in local newspapers to educate the public about the effects of sand mining on their health, their future, their children’s future. Companies appear daily at the doors of neighbors trying to force them into a decision that will forever change the way we live in our townships and city. The potential of hundreds of thousands of dollars is too much for some to resist. The lies that are told to these land owners prevents them from realizing the harm that they are causing to their neighbors and to the environment. Companies seek permits and are granted them by townships who only fear that they will be sued by these huge companies. What is the benefit to our area from these land grabbing pirates. NONE. The promise of jobs in our area as well as other areas is a non-realized entity. The skill level required for these positions typically does not exist among our local workers. By the time this is realized, they are in the back door and there is no removing them. The addition of any jobs is overridden by the loss of jobs related to tourism being effected negatively. The chemicals that they use (they refuse to tell us what they are) are leaking into our aquifers and settling into their holding ponds where they will leach into the land and the water for generations to come. It will not be in my lifetime, but our children and grandchildren will live with their effects forever. Companies that assured us they would never do blasting are now blasting on a daily basis. Why? So they can get at the sand easier and remove this resource that has been there for millions of years. The Hi-Crush plant south of Augusta which was to be a 30 year operation will in reality probably be done in 8 years. Having witnessed what I did yesterday, I predict 5 years. What does this blasting do to our air, our water, the neighbors? The effects will be more than just the ground moving beneath their feet and their windows rattling and cracking. The disturbance to the water flow will be felt sooner than later. They built a conveyor system for over a mile so that they would not have to truck their ill gotten gains. This conveyor runs directly in front of homes. The sand that spills from this conveyor on a daily basis lies in piles along the route of the conveyor. With the winds being fairly constant, fugitive sand can be seen blowing from the 80-100 foot stacks of sand on a daily basis. Trains! Do you live within hearing distance of a railroad? Well I do, and I am sick of being awakened at all hours of the day and night. The train traffic through our little town has disturbed the reason most of us live here. The peace and quiet, the solitude, the safety of a rural community where neighbors used to care about each other and how we effected each others lives. No more. There are neighbors who no longer talk to each other after several generations of being good neighbors. The city is divided among those who believe that the mines represent progress and those of us who have studied at length the effects the mines will have on us. There is enough research out there to prove that what we are saying is valid about the quality of our water, our air, the health effects of silica on people and animals, as well as our landscape. I would ask you to attend an informational meeting this coming Wednesday evening, June 19th at 7 pm at the Augusta Community Center. Dr. Crispin Pierce, a PhD in environmental health is coming to discuss the effects of sand mining on air quality. I challenge you to attend to learn the truth about sand mining. It would provide you with truthful facts and help you learn for yourself why the amendment allowing companies to have unlimited high capacity wells is probably the worst decision our legislators could make. Hi-Crush has been in operation for about a year. As part of their permit they were allowed to install high capacity wells. Well, at the end of last year, they installed 2 additional high capacity wells without a permit. What has the DNR done about this? Essentially nothing. Fines mean nothing to these people. They have more financial resources than even our state could match. An example of the profitability of these operations is that Hi Crush is reported to have paid for their multi million dollar operation in 89 days of operation. There was enough finger pointing as to who was to blame for this action but now the legislators are going to allow them to build high capacity wells in an unmonitored, unregulated fashion. When Hi Crush started their operation, they ran their high capacity wells at full capacity with no meter placed on them. What kind of oversight by theDNR is this? At an air quality hearing for Hi Crush’s request to blast, the DNR representative informed us that there is no one who oversees the total permitting process. Each division of the DNR acts alone and the various components of the permit are NOT reviewed as a whole. He also informed us that Hi Crush will never be inspected due to the fact that they are too small of an operation. Too small? Please come and see what this “small” operation has done to our area. Hi Crush tells us that we can come and inspect at any time, yet the DNR has no scheduled inspections. What kind of oversight is this? You MUST remove the amendment regarding high capacity wells from the budget. To not do so is an unbelievable abuse of legislative power. Please attend our meeting on Wednesday, June 19th at 7 pm. We guarantee it will open your eyes to what is happening to our lives. Hi Crush is the only functioning mine in our township at this time but we can inform you of at least 4-5 others who are knocking down our doors to get here. Proof of this is the township providing a permit to Five Star, another sand mining operation north of Augusta on Hwy. 27. It is located adjacent to the Eau Claire River and adjacent to the old city landfill. Yet it was provided with a permit to operate. Who is going to clean up the Eau Claire River and Bridge Creek when they are polluted from this operation?


  1. hi- (from Dan)
    I read the excellent open letter to Kathy Bernier.
    I think some of the money facts are out of date-and significantly lower than now.

    Below, I post part of a Wisconsin Democracy piece; the rest is an attachment.
    The url for this article is: http://www.wisdc.org/pr052113.php

    page one of frac money article:

    rack Sand Industry Support Spikes With Mines
    Natural gas, sand mining contributions grow 21-fold in five years

    May 21, 2013
    Madison – Campaign contributions from the frack sand mining and natural gas industries ballooned 2,100 percent in six years and mirror the spike in mines and processing operations that now pepper northern Wisconsin, a Democracy Campaign review found.
    The natural gas industry, which uses the sand for hydraulic drilling to reach deep deposits of crude oil and natural gas, and frack sand mining and processing operations have contributed $757,894 since 2007 to candidates for statewide office and the legislature. The industries’ contributions have grown (see Bar Chart) from $18,762 in 2007 when there were only five active frack sand mines in Wisconsin to $413,642 in 2012. The state says there are now about 170 mines and processing plants.

    Viewed separately, campaign contributions from both industries surged between 2007 and 2012 (see Table 1). Contributions from natural gas interests increased from $15,512 in 2007 to $365,868 in 2012 and from $3,250 in 2007 to $47,774 in 2012 from sand mining interests.
    Table 1
    Annual Contributions To Legislative And Statewide Candidates
    From Natural Gas and Sand Mining Interests
    Year Natural Gas Sand Mining Total
    2007 $15,512 $3,250 $18,762
    2008 $23,500 $9,650 $33,150
    2009 $32,875 $4,700 $37,575
    2010 $71,788 $16,550 $88,338
    2011 $154,152 $12,275 $166,427
    2012 $365,868 $47,774 $413,642
    Totals $663,695 $94,199 $757,894
    The leading recipient of contributions from the two industries was Republican Governor Scott Walker who accepted $520,266 during the six-year period. Much of the sand mining industry’s growth in Wisconsin has occurred since Walker was elected in 2010.
    After Walker, 23 candidates and the four Senate and Assembly Republican and Democratic legislative fundraising committees received a total of $2,000 or more (see Table 2) from sand mining and natural gas interests from 2007 through 2012. Most of the top recipients were incumbents and challengers involved in the 2011 and 2012 recall races, candidates for statewide office and candidates in targeted legislative seats.
    Other top recipients include Republican Senator Alberta Darling of River Hills who accepted $35,100. Darling, who is co-chair of the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, won her 2011 recall challenge which cost $10 million – the most expensive legislative campaign in Wisconsin history – thanks to wealthy special interests like these. GOP Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who also faced a recall challenge with Walker in 2012, received $16,950; and former Republican Senator Dan Kapanke of La Crosse who lost his 2011 recall contest accepted $8,525.
    Most of the contributions from natural gas and sand mining interests flowed to Republicans legislative and statewide candidates during the six-year period. One hundred Republican candidates and committees received $710,790 and 44 Democratic candidates and committees received $47,104. Excluding Republican and Democratic candidates for statewide office, the 97 Republican legislative candidates and fundraising committees received four times more contributions from the industries than the 42 Democratic legislative candidates and fundraising committees – $154,974 versus $36,739.
    The governor and GOP-controlled legislature have said they do not intend to change state air and water pollutions laws despite reports of complaints, widespread noncompliance with regulations and state permit violations even as the frack sand boom continues.
    Environmental groups and property owners in and around communities throughout northern Wisconsin where the mines have sprung up are concerned about health problems caused by the fine silica sand on air and water quality, declining property values and noise and congestion from a surge in truck and rail transportation to deliver the sand to North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and other states for natural gas extraction.
    The Department of Natural Resources cited nearly a fifth of the frack sand mines and processing operations last year for environmental violations, and issued numerous noncompliance letters, which warn operators to fix problems before they become violations, according to a media report in March.
    The DNR referred two frack sand mine violations that caused significant environmental damage to the Department of Justice which is headed by Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen who accepted $18,600 in campaign contributions from natural gas and sand mining interests. In one case, a heavy rainstorm liquefied a pile of silt and mud and sent it crashing through a home after the DNR warned the company about waste leaking from its operations, according to media reports.
    Walker has proposed spending $223,000 and reassigning two positions in the Department of Natural Resources to monitor sand mining operations in his 2013-15 state budget being considered by the legislature.
    In addition to the governor’s plan, a Democratic legislator has introduced five proposals that would give counties and municipalities more local control over frack sand operations. The bills would prohibit frack sand operations within 2,500 feet of a residential area, allow counties to issue permits for frack sand exploration and require more advanced notice about the siting and permitting of frack sand operations, among other things.
    But it appears unlikely any of the bills will become law because both houses of the legislature are comfortably controlled by Republicans and the proposals are opposed by the state’s largest business group, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and other organizations representing the construction and road building industries.
    Business, energy, natural resources, manufacturing, banking, transportation and other wealthy special interests represented by WMC and the other groups contributed $49.2 million to candidates for statewide office and the legislature from 2007 through 2012.
    Table 2
    Campaign Contributions* To Legislative And Statewide Candidates
    From Natural Gas And Sand Mining Interests
    2007 – 2012
    Candidate Party Amount
    Walker, Scott R $520,266
    Darling, Alberta R $35,100
    Van Hollen, JB R $18,600
    Kleefisch, Rebecca R $16,950
    Kapanke, Dan R $8,525
    Committee to Elect a Republican Senate R $8,350
    Harsdorf, Sheila R $7,750
    Barrett, Tom D $6,365
    Fitzgerald, Scott R $6,200
    Olsen, Luther R $5,100
    State Senate Democratic Committee D $4,737
    Doyle, Jim D $4,000
    Bernier, Kathy R $3,500
    Republican Assembly Campaign Committee R $3,250
    Moulton, Terry R $3,150
    Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee D $3,000
    Tiffany, Tom R $3,000
    Gudex, Rick R $2,850
    Huebsch, Mike R $2,750
    Shilling, Jennifer D $2,650
    Larson, Tom R $2,574
    Suder, Scott R $2,550
    Macco, John R $2,350
    Krug, Scott R $2,300
    Kapenga, Chris R $2,250
    Nygren, John R $2,250
    Petryk, Warren R $2,100
    Holperin, Jim D $2,000
    *Table shows candidates who received a total of $2,000 or more from the industries between 2007 and 2012.
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