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LTE – Jim Laskin – 1-29-2014

Just a few short months ago, after a great deal of effort on the part of our City Council and about fifteen thoughtfully chosen volunteers, a new Mining Ordinance was created and adopted by our city. The City’s Mining Ordinance was created to protect the interests of all our residents in the likely event that a silica sand mine wanted to operate in Glenwood City.

This past week a proposal from Vista Sands has been handed to the city and it is alarming to read all of the exemptions it demands from the protections written into our brand new mining ordinance.

Our new mining ordinance says that mines in Glenwood City should operate between the hours of 6AM and 8PM five days a week. This allows for people to enjoy their weekends in peace and to sleep at night without the constant noise of millions of tons of earth and sand being moved and processed. The Mining Company demands operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our new mining ordinance caps the maximum level of noise outside the mine at 60 decibels. The mining company wants that to be raised to a maximum of 85 decibels. As they helpfully state in their proposal “…a diesel truck (90dBA) represent examples of the sound levels in the 85 dBA range”.

Now think 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 30 years.

The list of exemptions from the just passed Glenwood City mining ordinance and its protections goes on to demand exemptions from the high explosives blasting portions of the ordinance. Exemptions from the air monitoring portions of the ordinance and changes to water well monitoring.

Basically, many of the carefully considered protections for all of us who live in and just around Glenwood City go right out the window.

But isn’t Glenwood City going to get big big money in return for letting the mining company process and ship millions and millions of tons of sand over the next thirty years? Remember when this proposal first was announced last March and the city compensation was said to be $250,000? Remember when Mayor Larson was talking about $100,000 to $200,000 for Glenwood City late this summer? Well in the mining company’s proposal they are now promising Glenwood City 7 cents a ton for sand shipped, or as little as $35,000 a year, this on a product whose current net profit is $35 a ton.

The claim has always been that the citizens of Glenwood City would be well protected if a mine were allowed in Glenwood City and the city would be well compensated for allowing a 500 acre sand mine to operate next to where we live and next to where we send our kids to school. It was always claimed that the Mining Company wanted to be a good neighbor.

Quite frankly, this proposal is an insult and seems to assume that we are all simply country bumpkins, hayseeds and rubes. If Glenwood City’s Council is going to allow what the recent election so clearly showed to be a very controversial mine into the city, it better be allowed in under the rules set by the just completed mining ordinance and with real compensation for our city.

This is a thirty year marriage with no option of divorce if we realize a mistake has been made. There can be no mistakes.

Jim Laskin