A group of Winona citizens angry with Sen. Jeremy Miller's vote against a measure to prohibit frac-sand mining within a mile of trout streams in southeast Minnesota are headed to the Capitol tomorrow.
According to a press release sent out by the Land Stewardship Project, the group will gather at 8:45 a.m. outside Winona City Hall before boarding buses and heading to the Minnesota Capitol. They plan to hold a 12:30 p.m. news conference to discuss their anger over Miller's vote. They will then deliver an oversized postcard to Miller's office. It asks Miller to "start putting the well-being of the citizens of your district above frac sand special interests."
The trout stream language is sponsored by Sen. Matt Schmit, DFL-Red Wing. The 1-mile setback also applies to springs, fens and other waterways. He attempted to reinsert it into his omnibus game and fish bill during a Senate Finance Committee last week, but it failed by one vote. Miller was one of those no votes.
In an interview today, Miller said he is open to supporting setbacks on mining near trout streams. But he is not convinced that a mile is the right distance.
"I am not opposed to a setback," he said. "But let's make sure that we have the right number and we are not just picking a number for the sake of having a number."
Schmit's provision has the strong backing of Trout Unlimited. In a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dick Cohen, the group's Executive Director John Lenczewski explains the rational behind the 1-mile setback. He cites a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources study that found mining within 3,000 feet of a spring in Fillmore County resulted in a 17-degree rise in temperature. He said the study's author advised providing an additional 2,000 feet as a buffer.
Schmit has said he will continue trying to get the trout stream language passed. One option would be to try to offer an amendment on the Senate floor.