Senator: Stop silica mining around water wells

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The senator pushing for tougher regulations on silica sand mining says the state needs to take extra steps to protect drinking water from the booming industry.

Sen. Matt Schmit is asking the state to fund easements that would bar sand mines from being built where they could affect groundwater quality. Schmit hasn’t set a dollar amount yet, but says the amount of easements would go up as the state’s contribution increases.

The Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture finance committee considered Schmit’s proposal Wednesday as one of several infrastructure and construction projects to possibly include in a state bonding bill.

Schmit, a Red Wing Democrat, is also calling for a statewide study on the health and environmental impacts of the industry along with a one-year freeze on new mines.

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