The number of Wisconsin frac sand mining operations has more than doubled in the past year, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism found, and the state leads the nation in production.
“We have the best sand in the world,” said Tom Woletz, the frac sand specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
“And we have a lot of sand.”
The frac sand industry has grown fast, and no government agency has an up-to-date list of all of the mines and processing plants in Wisconsin. A year ago, the Center identified 41 facilities operating or proposed in the state. This summer 87 are operating or under construction, with another 20 facilities in the proposal stage.
“Our office has turned into a zoo,” said Kevin Lien, director of land management for Trempealeau County. “We have seven applications for mining permits in July. Everyone here is engulfed in mining. It’s a huge workload for us.”