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Critics unhappy with bill limiting new frac-sand mining regulations

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A limit on new regulations for Wisconsin's existing frac-sand mines was debated Monday at the State Capitol.

Opponents told lawmakers at a public hearing that the bill would tie local governments' hands, because they could not regulate new technology and the future issues that arise from it.

Like a more restrictive version earlier, critics like the Sierra Club called the new bill a corporate giveaway to a booming industry.

Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst had offered a compromise bill to allow communities to regulate future silica-sand mines as they wish -- but not the hundred-plus mines already in existence, most of them in western Wisconsin.

Assembly Republican Joan Ballweg of Markesan said she was confident that state agencies would do a good job of regulating the industry -- and she said local governments may not have the expertise to make necessary judgments.

The compromise bill bans for restrictive zoning for existing mines. It would also protect mines from new ordinances if they're in business for the preceding year.

The bill's prospects are uncertain, as the current session is now entering its final month.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)