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Assembly speaker promises to 'go slow' on frac-sand regulations

MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)  The Wisconsin Assembly speaker says he does not want to ram through a bill that takes away most local government authority to regulate frac-sand mines. Republican Robin Vos said yesterday his majority would wait until next spring to take up the measure.

Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst proposed it last week. He said frac-sand miners are tired of dealing with a hodge-podge of restrictive local ordinances -- and it would be a lot easier for them if Madison took control. Vos says he favors the measure, but he wants to thoroughly review all the possible effects.

Tiffany's bill would nullify a State Supreme Court ruling from last year, which allowed towns to use police powers to regulate things like blasting, and the hours that frac-sand mines could operate. The new bill would still let communities use zoning powers on mining projects -- but many towns don't have their own zoning. Also, town and county officials are concerned that the bill would strike down their agreements with frac-sand companies on their load limits for trucks -- which seek to prevent damage to highways.

Wisconsin has about 115 frac-sand mines, most in the western half of the state with the type of extremely-fine sand that oil-and-gas companies want for their drilling equipment.