ST. PAUL, Minn. - State lawmakers are deciding whether they need to step in and regulate the state's booming silica sand mining industry.
In a packed hearing Tuesday at the Capitol, critics said the state needs to assess the health and environmental impacts that the mines have on communities. Proponents say local governments are the right entities to oversee silica mining.
Southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin are rich with deposits of silica sand, which is used in the oil production technique hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Sen. Matt Schmit of Red Wing says he plans to introduce a bill Thursday to broaden the state's oversight and call for a statewide study of the industry.
Sen. John Marty of Roseville, who chaired the hearing, says such a study may require a temporary moratorium on new mines.
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