LTE – Patricia Smith – 1-1-2014

The sand mine issue has pitted neighbor against neighbor in Glenwood City.  Along with 50-60 jobs, the Vista Sand operation is expected to bring $100,000 to $200,000 annually to Glenwood City over the next 20-30 years.

What happens if, in the next 5-10 years, ceramic proppant beads or another synthetic product become far more affordable than natural frac sand?  What happens when good neighbor Vista defaults on the anticipated annual payment?  Or decides to leave Glenwood City with an unreclaimed open mine site?  Keep in mind it was Vista’s dislike of St. Croix County’s 20 acres open-at-a-time rule that led to plan B.

How will Glenwood City finance the enforcement of its mining regulations once the Teigen parcel is annexed to the city?  At what point will Glenwood City be at the beck and call of Vista Sand in order to keep the city afloat?

As for the promised jobs, who can possibly predict that residents will want those jobs?  And for how long will they want them?  Will the best and brightest choose to stay in Glenwood City?  Or will the sand mine make them want to get out of Glenwood City?  At what point will current residents decide to leave Glenwood City because the noise, pollution and traffic make country living unbearable?

All the money in the world cannot restore the potential damage of this proposed mine.  Yes, the landowner and Vista Sand stand to profit greatly.  But what about the rest of the town?

The study commissioned by the Wisconsin Farmers Union, the Wisconsin Towns Association and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy looks at these types of issues in its report titled:  The Economic Benefits and Costs of Frac-Sand Mining in West Central Wisconsin.  The report is available online; the Executive Summary of the report provides more food for thought.

For a bird’s eye view of a large sand mine, go to www.vistasand.com.  Click on About; then on Image Gallery.

Patricia Smith
Knapp, WI