Sand mining bill with moratorium passes 1st stop

4:19 PM, Feb 26, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - State senators are leaning toward halting new silica sand mines while the state studies the health and environmental costs of the booming industry.

The Senate Energy and Environment committee on Tuesday passed a bill on an 8-4 vote to establish firm oversight of silica sand mining. It includes a one-year moratorium on new permits.

Sen. Matt Schmit's bill also calls for the creation of a regional board to regulate mining and a statewide environmental study to gauge the industry's effects on air, water and roads. Schmit says the bill helps county and city governments oversee silica mining.

Sen. Michelle Benson, a Ham Lake Republican, says she worries the moratorium will stop mining companies from expanding in Minnesota. She and the other three Republicans on the committee voted against the bill.

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