On March 19, the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB) approved its proposed model standards for local silica sand mining regulations and planning. The standards are intended to serve as guidelines for city and county governments as they work to develop their own local ordinances for mining, processing, and transporting silica sand. The Minnesota Legislature mandated the development of the standards last spring, as part of a suite of silica sand mining regulations.
The EQB released its initial draft of the model standards, which were developed in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), in December. After a comment period and release of a final draft, the members of the EQB unanimously adopted the model standards.
In addition to the EQB’s model standards, the DNR and the MPCA are also undertaking administrative rulemaking concerning silica sand mining practices. For example, the DNR is currently seeking public comments for developing rules on reclamation of silica sand projects.
To help coordinate those rulemaking efforts, a Silica Sand Advisory Panel was recently formed in cooperation with the EQB, the DNR, and the MPCA, to provide input during consideration of possible new regulations of silica sand operations in Minnesota. Panel members—who the MPCA and DNR chose in response to a November 2013 solicitation—represent various stakeholders in silica sand mining and operations, including representatives from industry, local governments, and Minnesota citizens. Meetings are open to the public and the panel expects to meet monthly over at least the next year until new administrative rules or rule revisions are proposed. The panel’s next meeting is scheduled for April 7.