Mine is like a Novel

Mine is like a John Grisham Novel

There’s a sand mine issue in the Chippewa Valley that reminds me of a John Grisham novel.  You know, big corporation moves into small town, people all excited because of new jobs and lower taxes.  Then people start dropping like flies from cancer, their water table is polluted, as is the land, and lower taxes turn into zero property values.  They fight the corporation with their own home-grown lawyer, but their win turns into an appeal, and the already bankrupted and beleaguered little guys have no more money or energy to keep going.

Yes, this is fiction, but how far from the truth is it?  International Oil and Mining interests are trying to get a strong foothold in our area by offering huge sums of money to land owners in order to create silica sand mines and by promising between 22 to 50 jobs plus added revenue to our tax base.  ( Silica sand, also known as frac sand or proppant, is used in oil drilling and also to create a synthetic oil.)

This is what they want us to believe: that hitting the water table in not “supposed” to happen, and that they “see” no possibility of problems with mercury, lead or arsenic.  (I guess that means that if they don’t see it, that’s OK.)  Here’s the best one yet:  according to The Chippewa Herald, “they’re not sure whether the silica dust is a danger to the general public or just the workers.”  (Does that mean that the general public doesn’t count?) Silica effects on general public have not been extensively studied. Environmental Air Quality Standards provide The Mining Industry with many exemptions so we can’t even know the full impact.

This is what we do know:
>We will pay higher taxes to repair the roads that they damage.
>Despite getting a $1.75 million loan (bond), Canadian Sand and Proppants won’t contribute one Penny to our tax base for 6.5 years, because their taxes will be given back to them to build their infrastructure.  In the mean time, who pays for our lost home values?
>The cancer -causing silica dust from  the mines, and from the gigantic piles outside the refinery that will be built in Chippewa Falls, can travel over 100 miles.
> The 500 semi trucks will emit toxic fumes that are the cause of 70-89% of cancer  caused by air pollution in the US.
>Light and smog pollution from atop the five obtrusive, belching and blinking smokestacks will be a constant reminder that we now live in a mining town.
>Our hills will be flattened, our landscape changed.

And for what reason?
>Why are we pursuing 20th century industrialization at a time when our earth is in danger, and green technology will be the future?  After all, aren’t we the home of Seymour Cray’s forward and innovative thinking?  I wonder if he would approve of becoming a heavy industrial town?
>Why are we bringing in a company that will hire so few people and cost the county so much?
This is the time for all of us little guys to rise up and let our voices be heard.  It is an infringement on our way of life that may bring cancer-causing pollutants, traffic congestion, noise, and much more that we never bargained for in the Chippewa Valley.  How about standing up to this Goliath.  David was a little guy, too, but he was remembered as a hero who  saved his people.  You can do the same.  For many more facts, pictures, and examples of other towns who already have the mines, go towww.concernedchippewacitizens.com   We will be shocked at how close we could be to that John Grisham novel.

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  1. Jan Zmuda Charles says:

    I am a Certified Occupational health Nurse and my family has farmed in Eau Claire County WI for 150 years. Eau Claire County (WI) is being pushed to succumb to permitting mining in our scenic county under the disguise of jobs and high dollar payments to land owners. I attended the first hearing this week and presented on the danger of latent silicosis. I could not believe the misinformation that the people have. The people need an education based on “scientific based evidence” to guide the decision making process. They need to know that these out of state companies have no true buy- in to our community. So if you have anyone willing to help us be proactive, please contact me, Jan Zmuda Charles @ 715 225 4409. Thank You.

  2. Hi Cordelia – and Irene …

    I live across the river in Winona County, Minnesota. Our county government is presently considering a one year moratorium on frac sand mining. 3 relatively small proposals are under consideration here, in a small township of sparse population. All 3 permit applications have been filed by the current landowners themselves, but what I have seen in practice in Wisconsin indicates these landowners(farmers) would not own their land for long once the sandman has his foot in the door.

    I would relish any help and advice in organizing to prevent industrialization of the pristine valleys I’ve called home for 50 years. I take some comfort in hearing that young folks at a respected university 1,000 miles away have an interest in a environment they’ve never seen.

    Irene, I apologize for stomping on your thread in hope of hearing from Cordelia. But if citizens of Winona County take a ‘wait and see’ stance on this issue and out county board does nothing, the 3 permits will automatically be approved mid-January.

    Any advice or assistance either of you might offer would be greatly appreciated. Like Cordelia, I am unsure how to contact either of you, so I’ll just post my email here. I can be reached at mlafky@yahoo.com. Thank you both.

  3. Hi, Save the Hills Alliance.

    I wasn’t sure how else to contact you since I did not find a place with general contact information. I am a student of Duke University and I am with a small group who is trying to write a grant for our Environmental Justice writing class. Our goal is to educate the people of Monroe County, WI, who live in an area with 16 active sand mines, 11 mines in development, an another 14 being proposed, on the dangers they are subjected to and what they can do about it. We were wondering if Save the Hills Alliance would be willing to work with us in teaching the citizens of Monroe County how to organize and, if it comes to it, setting up a regional organization there.
    Though this is only for a class assignment, the grant that we’re writing could potentially be submitted, and we would like to treat this as if it will. Any help that you could offer would be very much appreciated, and please ask me if you want more information.

    Thank you so much for your time,

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