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Long time DNR official will oversee fast growing frac-sand industry

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A 22-year veteran of the state DNR will oversee Wisconsin’s rapidly-growing frac-sand industry.

Deb Dix has been named the interim lead official for handling inquiries about state frac-sand regulations and similar matters. She replaces Tom Woletz, who retired earlier this month as the DNR’s chief expert on frac-sand mining – the relatively-new phenomenon of digging for silica sand that’s used by the oil-and-gas industry to lubricate drilling equipment.

Under Woletz, Wisconsin has developed over 100 frac sand mines – the most in the nation – plus 65 processing sites.

Dix will be based in the DNR’s Wisconsin Rapids office, and will serve until a permanent lead official is named. She’s been with the agency since 1990, and was most recently involved in the DNR’s environmental enforcement program – including frac-sand enforcement actions.

In a recent retirement interview, Woletz said no frac-sand company has ever been taken to the court by the state, but the Justice Department has several cases pending.

He said Wisconsin has good frac-sand mining regulations, but the DNR can use more staffers to assure compliance.