Frac sand draft rules go back to the drawing board

The state Wednesday stepped back from its draft standards designed to help local governments regulate frac sand mining.

The Environmental Quality Board, an oversight group, listened to three hours of criticism from residents of southeastern Minnesota.

Environmental activists complained that the draft standards were looser than some existing local rules, that they lacked scientific underpinnings, and that they would undermine local efforts to protect the environment.

In the end, the board promised to re-write the document with a lot more public and industry input.

Activist Keith Fossen said that's the way it should be.

"There's well-educated members of the public that have been researching this for two to three years, and they need to be involved in this decision-making," Fossen said.

Frac sand industry spokesman Dennis Egan said the legislature directed the environmental quality board to have the standards ready to use by October first. But now it will take months longer.

"The industry, as in any industry, wants certainty in terms of what's the process forward, what can we expect, and we can't have new standards and new guidelines every six months," Egan said.