Minn. lawmakers compromise on sand mining rules

Critics of silica sand mining had hoped the Minnesota Legislature would adopt aggressive statewide rules to protect people and the environment. What finally emerged from the just-finished session, however, was a compromise that still leaves much of the authority for deciding how and whether to regulate the industry up to local governments.

Opponents initially pinned their hopes on a statewide moratorium.

In the end, they settled for a requirement that the state issue permits for new mines located within a mile of trout streams after studying the impacts on water quality. They also got the state more involved in the environmental review and regulatory process, and in providing optional aid to local governments that want help. And they won authority for local governments to extend their moratoriums against new projects.