Wisconsin has been embroiled in a debate in recent years over whether to allow an iron ore mine in far northwestern Wisconsin. As Mike Nichols reports, another mining industry is already quietly booming in Wisconsin;frac sand. Nichols' piece is long but worth the read. It's also quite balanced. Nichols concedes that the frac sand mining industry isn't entirely risk free. But as he puts it, opponents likely will never be placated.
The opponents quoted here sound an awful lot like the Gogebic Taconite opponents; there doesn't seem to be any such thing as safe mining. In the middle of a fracking boom in America, Wisconsin is sitting on billions of dollars worth of nature's pick and shovels. Silica sand will be needed and it has to come from somewhere. Yes we should take steps to assure that it is mined for as safely as possible.
But the anti-mining effort always starts from the premise that safe mining is about as practical as a safe cigarette. They believe the only safe mine is one that is never opened. They deny this, of course, but the evidence speaks for itself. The only mining regulations they can live with are the ones that preclude mining in Wisconsin.
No, government should not turn a blind eye to any mining process. Nor should it put up unnecessary roadblocks to an industry that is letting Wisconsin in on a national boom.