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Group: Install Air Monitors To Study Frack Sand

WINONA, Minn. (AP) — A Winona environmental group is recommending that air monitors be installed around the city to measure the effect that the processing and shipping of sand used in fracking has on air quality.

The Winona Citizen's Environmental Quality Committee recommends installing four or five air-quality monitors along truck routes in the city, the Winona Daily News reported Saturday. The committee also suggests placing monitors near places where frack sand is loaded, transported and processed.

Oil- and gas-drilling companies use frack sand to unlock oil and natural gas deposits. Southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin have experienced a boom in silica sand mining because the sand found there is the ideal shape and size for hydraulic fracturing.

Opponents have raised concerns that fracking might lead to air and water pollution.

The Winona Planning Commission is expected to consider the committee's recommendations at its next meeting, but the suggestions are not binding.

Committee member Bea Hoffman told the newspaper that increased monitoring would be a benefit to both residents and the industry. If air-quality measurements show that the industry is complying with environmental regulations it would demonstrate to residents they don't need to be concerned, she said.

In a separate development, a court hearing was held Thursday on an appeal of the first frack-sand mine that Winona County officials permitted.

A citizens' group filed the appeal in April 2013 after the county's Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 not to order an environmental-impact statement on a frack-sand mine in Saratoga Township, KAGE-TV reported. The group later filed a second appeal of another 3-2 board decision to issue a conditional-use permit for the mine.

The two cases were consolidated before a panel of three Minnesota Court of Appeals judges. The judges have 90 days to render a decision.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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