One-On-One: Regulating silica 'frac' sand mining

There's been a boom recently in the use of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" to pull oil and natural gas from rock formations.

The pressurized water used in fracking is combined with sand. Silica sand, found in Minnesota and Wisconson, is perfect for this purpose because of its size, shape and mineral composition.

Along with the boom in fracking is an explosion in silica sand mining. Six silica sand mines are currently up and running in Minnesota, but five counties have passed moratoriums on new mines. It's an issue that sparks some controversy. This week, for example, a Twin Cities based conference on the subject has been peppered with protesters.

As part of our One-on-One series of debates, MPR's Cathy Wurzer welcomes two men with differing perspectives on how this industry should be regulated. State Sen. John Howe is a Republican who represents the Red Wing area, which is rich in silica sand. Fred Corrigan is the executive director of the Aggregate and Ready Mix Association of Minnesota.

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