It is horrifying to see the state of Minnesota ready to jump in to slow down, or stop, the sand mining taking place in the southeastern part of the state. A state Senate committee this week OK'd a one-year moratorium on new silica sand mines.
The sand in question is used in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry, to bring natural gas and oil to the surface of the Earth for human use. This booming industry is reducing energy prices for every American and keeping tens of thousands of people employed. It is allowing the United States to reduce dependence on foreign oil that comes from nations that hate us.
Minnesota's response? Throw sand in the gears.
People will argue that we don't know the effects of the sand mining. Yes, we do. People working at Minnesota sand mines will take the sand from the ground and ship it where it is needed. Just as sand mines have been doing for a century or more. What's happening now is just at a greater scale.
What about the possible environmental effects? The health effects? Some local officials in eastern Minnesota say state oversight is needed because locals don't have the expertise. Fine. Doesn't the state have laws that prohibit endangering the health of others or befouling the land and streams? Can't they be enforced? Are state lawmakers saying the only alternative is to shut down a booming and vital industry for a year? Is this legislative effort about common sense or about exerting power for power's sake?
Minnesota needs to make sure sand mines are operated safely. It also needs to make sure they are free to operate.