Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Price of Sand

If you think of environmental activism as an abstract concept. If you think of yourself as a boring midwesterner thousands of miles from the real news-makers, think again.

The desire  for major oil corporations to open massive sand mining operations in southeastern Minnesota has been in the news a lot. The issue is hot.

The Mississippi River meanders through bluff lands that miraculously escaped being leveled by the last glaciation. It’s a region of trout streams, caves and a resting place for numerous migrating birds. Sometimes it seems as though bald eagles are as numerous as sparrows here.  

Known as the “Driftless Region” by trout fishermen and environmentalists, the blufflands of southeastern Minnesota are a world class environmental attraction and they are literally made of frac sand.

Our bluffs escaped the glaciers, but will they escape the big yellow machines?

The mayor of Red Wing evidently didn’t realize how hot the issue is because he took a job lobbying the legislature for corporate frac sand interests. He seemed surprised when he was nearly “tarred and feathered” and forced to resign.

The level of emotion around the mayoral issue was high. It’s not surprising some people found the resignation process to be awkward and unfair. After all the mayor is a real person with real feelings and a family.  His treatment was rough.

Someone with enough power to get their thoughts placed in the local paper as a commentary stepped up to point out how inhumane the situation was. They suggested in the paper that the anti sand movement is fear mongering, akin to McCarthyism.

An individual who lives next to a proposed mine site who has been researching the issue for over two years  responded by writing a letter to the editor. He said anyone who believes sand mining in Goodhue County is a good idea, is undereducated. He took a parting shot at a respected State Representative who, until recently, has been conspicuously absent from the debate.

This weekend, the respected Representative responded with his own righteous letter to the editor, calling out the private citizen by name and saying he should apologize... I’ve never seen a politician do that. He made it sound as if the person who lives by the mine site doesn’t know what he is talking about.

What will happen next?

Yes, the frac sand issue is hot. Not only is it important right here in Minnesota, it is a pivotal part of the larger issue of fracking nation-wide.

Our sand issue is at the root of energy independence, renewable energy and national energy policy. It begins with us. You can’t understand frac sand mining by reading letters to the editor or reading a pamphlet.

This issue is right here. Be a good citizen and engage. Go to a screening of the soon to be released documentary “The Price of Sand”. You will see real frac sand mines, and interviews with neighbors. You’ll get opinions from mining professionals and truckers who invested their life savings in equipment so they can work for the mines.  You will see the real people and the real issues and you will walk away with a new appreciation of it’s scale and complexity.

And when you read about it or hear it in the news you will have some idea what they are talking about.

Here is the information for the first couple of showings of "The Price of Sand”.

Sheldon Theater in Red Wing March 22nd 7pm

Grandview Theater in St. Paul on March 28th, at 7PM

Here’s a link to a comment I’ve heard many, many times. Notable this time because someone with power says it on video.

No comments: