Frac sand documentary in Red Wing tonight

A Minnesota filmmaker says he hopes his documentary about frac sand mining will help policy makers understand how the issue is affecting residents and communities.

Jim Tittle, of St. Paul, will present his film, "The Price of Sand," to the public for the first time Friday night in Red Wing at the Sheldon Theatre.

Tittle started the project two years ago when an oil company paid a high price for land near his family's property in Red Wing.


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The debate over silica sand mining often is framed as businesses against environmentalists, but Tittle says the people he's interviewed for the film often don't fit stereotypes.

"A lot of people who I've met who are trying to control this industry, or trying to put controls on it, are very conservative," he said.

"What motivated me is I just realized it was a bigger issue than I had thought, and was getting bigger. We were in the middle of basically a gold rush, and so I thought by collecting stories mostly in Wisconsin I could show people what was happening."

The mining of silica sand has been a contentious issue in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, and Minnesota lawmakers are considering whether to place restrictions on the industry aimed at protecting the environment and human health. Industry critics of the move say Minnesota's current laws are sufficient.

Tittle says the project started with a few You Tube videos that generated thousands of hits. A second preview is scheduled in St. Paul next Thursday, and the film will have its official premiere at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival next month.