Fracking in Wisconsin

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Fracking in Wisconsin
Policypedia energy logo.PNG
Regulation
Regulatory agency Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources[1]
Resources
Fossil fuels present None[2]
Fracking
Other state fracking pages
AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyLouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahVermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Wisconsin has no oil or natural gas reserves, and as such there is no fracking occurring in the state. It does support two industries related to fracking, frac sand mining and machinery manufacturing, although little is known about the impacts of the latter.


Fracking in Wisconsin depends on many circumstances, such as: available energy resources, the location of these resources, applicable laws and regulations, politics, and the power of environmental and industry groups. Decisions by policymakers and citizens, including state and local governments and ballot initiatives, affect if and how fracking occurs in a state.

Recent technological advances in oil and gas drilling--horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or fracking--have created a wealth of opportunities and challenges for states that have fossil fuel reserves that can be accessed through the combination of these two technologies and the industries that support them. The increased use of fracking has been an economic boon for states, not only those with fracking but also those with supporting industries, such as frac sand mining or associated machinery manufacturing.

Those opposed to fracking argue that the potential environmental and human health impacts could be large. Although wells have been fracked for over 65 years in the U.S., concerns have been raised over the ability for federal, state and local regulatory agencies to keep up with the growth and adequately protect the environment and human health. As with any type of energy extraction, either traditional or renewable, there are tradeoffs. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is the process of injecting fluid--mostly water and sand but with additional chemicals--into the ground at a high pressure to fracture shale rocks to release the natural gas inside.

Frac sand sorted by size

Frac sand, also known as proppant is a silica, or quartz, used during the fracking process to open fissures in shale rock to release the oil and gas that is trapped within. Also known as industrial sand, frac sand contains high levels of silicon dioxide (SiO2), which make it extremely strong. Wisconsin has a well-known type of highly-prized sand called "Ottawa White," which is very round and strong, making it very valuable to the fracking process.[3]

For a full explanation of fracking see Fracking.

History

Sand has been mined in Wisconsin since settlers first came to the area, and has been mined for use on golf courses, in glassmaking, and for the last 40 years has been used by the petroleum industry. Frac sand mining has grown significantly over the past few years; since 2008 the state has permitted 90 new mining locations.[4][5]

Economic impact

The growth in sand mining has increased government revenue, employment opportunities and industry. To facilitate this growth and compensate for the effects of this growth the 2013 Wisconsin State Legislative budget set aside $6.4 billion in rail and roadway improvements.[6][7]

Taxes, fees and revenue

A study on WISA's website of Wood County estimated that construction of new facilities could generate $33.3 million in earnings for county within the first year of construction. Within three years frac sand mining could generate $42.8 million for the county.[8]

Employment

According to the President of the Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association, the industry has created 2,000 jobs in the state. According to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the average frac sand processing facilities creates 50-80 jobs, while the average mine creates 10 jobs. Entry level positions pay $13.50 an hour, while positions requiring skills, such as welding, pay $20.00 per hour.[9]

Studies

A study on WISA's website of Wood County estimated that construction of new facilities could create 616 jobs in the county within the first year of construction. Within three years frac sand mining could account for 700 new jobs.[10] Another study done for the Wisconsin Farmers Union, Wisconsin Towns Association and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, warns that job creation numbers are actually quite small when compared with job creation in the overall economy.

Royalties, land sales and prices

Offers as high as $10,000 per acre for land with frac sand deposits have been reported by Wisconsin residents.[11][12] Additionally, frac sand can sell for as much as $200 a ton.[13]

Environmental impact

According to the U.S. Geological Survey the mining of sand, including frac sand, has little environmental impact. In order to mine frac sand, first the overburden, or topsoil must be removed. Then, depending on the site, part of the formation may be blasted away to facilitate mining. After blasting, if the sand is larger than desired, mobile crushing units can be brought to the mining site to crush the rocks. The rocks are then processed through a washing, sorting and drying system. The sand is then shipped to the fracking sites where it is needed, usually by rail. Once a site has been mined completely, it must be reclaimed, stabilized and revegetated. Such sites have also been restored to be used in agriculture, or used as wildlife habitats.[14][15]
As with any growing industry however there are concerns that the laws and regulatory infrastructure aren't able to keep up, and permitting and other oversight measures won't be done properly or effectively. From 2012 to March 2013 Wisconsin has found at least 20 sand mining companies violating state air and water pollution laws.[16][17]

Air

The two types of air emissions that result from mining are dust and the pollutants that are released during processing. Mining operators are required to maintain a fugitive dust prevention plan to limit dust. Pollutants released during processing, known as combustion emissions, are considered to be insignificant according to Wisconsin Administrative Code.[18]

Water

Sand mining sites can affect water resources, whether by being located near a river, wetland, groundwater, stream, or through water runoff. Water also may be used during the mining process. Water is used to process the sand and facilitates dust control, washing and cleaning. Sand mining sites use an average of 420,500 to 2 million gallons of water a day. The majority of all sand mining is done above the water table in Wisconsin.[19]

Health

Concerns have been raised about potential health impacts that might result from the release of small particulate matter, because this industry is growing so quickly. The air management director at the state's WDNR has said they are regulating the sites and that the DNR does "not believe there would be a health concern."[20][21]

Geographical areas of activity

Policypedia
Policypedia energy logo.PNG
State energy policy

Energy policy terms

Fracking in the U.S.

Energy use in the U.S.

Energy policy in the U.S.

AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyLouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahVermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

See also

Sand is mined in Burnett Chippewa, Trempealeau, Jackson and Monroe, Barron, Pierce, Dunn, St. Croix and Buffalo counties. Frac sand is found in sandstone formations including the Cambrian, Jordan, Wonewoc and Mt. Simon formations in Wisconsin.[22][23]

The map below uses data from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism to show where frac sand reserves are in the state and where frac sand is being mined.[24]

Map of frac sand mining sites in Wisconsin

Departments, agencies and organizations

  • The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is responsible for the health and safety of workers while a mine is producing.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) oversees many of the permitting processes and laws for nonmetallic mining, including Wisconsin's Endangered Species Law.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services regulates all blasting activity within the state. This department is responsible for the State Mine Safety program that oversees mining operations and compliance with state mining codes, and also works with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.[25]

Laws and regulations

Under Wisconsin law frac sand mining is considered to be nonmetallic mining, and as such, any company looking to mine frac sand must follow the same regulations as other nonmetallic mining operations. In Wisconsin much of this regulation is done on the local level through zoning ordinances. There are over 25 regulations that impact mining; below are summaries of just a few of the laws and statutes that regulate nonmetalic mining in Wisconsin.[26]

State

  • Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 115 sets state zoning standards within 1,000 feet of the ordinary high-water mark. The state, through counties, requires permits for structures within this zone, permits if shoreline vegetation is to be moved for this structure, and permits for filling, grading or dredging this area or any area that is a wetland.
  • Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 135 requires all counties to have a permitting process for nonmetallic mining. This permit requires companies to protect the topsoil disturbed during mining, reclaim a site once mining is complete and ensure there are no adverse impacts to groundwater during reclamation. The county oversees this permitting and ensures the site is reclaimed through a financial insurance instrument.
  • Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 340 requires all mine owners to go through a series of requirements to reclaim areas that have been mined. County regulatory agencies are required to oversee mines that are being reclaimed within their counties. This law also sets up the WDNR as the permitting authority for the operation and reclamation of frac sand mines and further regulates mining activities taking place near navigable water. It "substantially" restricts mining that could affect stream channels and avoids such mining if alternatives exist.
  • Wisconsin Statute 29.604 is Wisconsin's Endangered Species Law; it protects endangered and threatened species across the state. Under this law the WDNR must decide if any actions they permit or take will affect an endangered species. This decision is made through an Endangered Resources Review (ER). An ER may be completed by permitted WDNR staff or by the Bureau of Endangered Resources.[27]

Local

  • According to the WDNR most land mining siting regulation is done through local zoning decisions.
  • Counties have the ability to adopt their own shoreline zoning ordinances that affect structures located within a certain distance of the ordinary high-water mark. The state has set minimum standards in NR 115 Wisconsin Administrative Code.[28]

DocumentIcon.jpg See report: Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin

Major companies and affected industries

Sand mining can takes place in conjunction with cranberry mining. Cranberry growers are exempted from all the laws regulating sand mining in the state, and growers have been taking advantage of this discrepancy and selling the sand they mine, as they grow cranberries, to the fracking industry. These sales were brought to the attention of the WDNR and that agency is now requiring cranberry farmers to apply for a storm water permit if sand is mined on their farm and sold offsite.[29]

Major organizations

  • The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports on frac sand mines and their impact on the state. As part of their "Project: Wisconsin's sand rush." they have reported on the economic, health and environmental impacts in the state.[30]
  • The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters raises concerns about the effects of the increase in frac sand mining. They support local governments implementing zoning ordinances to protect against the impacts of sand mining. They also support a five bill package from State Senator Kathleen Vinehout that would add increased mining industry regulation intended to protect water, homes and environment.[31]
  • The Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association (WISA) is a statewide, private organization of North American industrial sand companies. Created in 2012 the association aims to "promote safe and environmentally sound sand mining standards." Members of the association must adhere to a code of conduct including guiding principles, environmental, safety, reclamation and management performance standards. WISA's membership includes four mining companies and about 50 friends-organizations that range from a university geology department to contractors and environmental consulting agencies.[32][33][34]

Energy consumption

Just over 65 percent of homes in Wisconsin use natural gas to heat their homes. Electricity is the second most common home heating sources, at 14.7 percent. Liquid petroleum gases heat almost 11 percent of homes in the state, fuel oil heats 3.3 percent and other sources heat the remaining 5.9 percent.

Consumption of energy for heating homes in Wisconsin
Source Wisconsin 2011 U.S. average 2011
Natural gas 65.3% 49.5%
Fuel oil 3.3% 6.5%
Electricity 14.7% 35.4%
Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG) 10.8% 5%
Other/none 5.9% 3.6%

Natural gas is used to produce only around 13 percent of electricity, with the remainder coming from renewable energy sources. Natural gas is supplied mainly by several interstate pipelines and comes mainly from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas and Canada. The interstate pipeline companies that move the gas from the production area to local utilities and through to other states include: ANR Pipeline Co., Great Lakes Gas Transmission Ltd., Northern Natural Gas Co., Viking Gas Transmission Co. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates the rates they charge, the services they provide to the local distribution centers (LDCs) and the construction of new pipelines.[35]

In Wisconsin there are currently 81 municipal electric utilities and 15 private electric utilities. For natural gas there is one municipal utility and 10 private natural gas utilities. Primarily three utilities own, built and operate the electric transmission system in Wisconsin: American Transmission Company (ATC), Xcel Energy Dairyland Power Corporation (DPC), ATC is responsible for the transmission facilities in eastern Wisconsin. Xcel Energy and DPC are responsible for the facilities in western Wisconsin.[36]

Where electricity comes from in Wisconsin[37]
Type Amount generated (MWh) % of state** % of U.S.**
Petroleum-fired 2,000 0.04% 0.01%
Natural gas-fired 634,000 12.98% 0.06%
Coal-fired 2,974,000 60.88% 0.17%
Nuclear 895,000 18.32% 0.11%
Hydroelectric 88,000 1.8% 0.03%
Other renewables 263,000 5.38% 0.13%
Total net electricity generation 4,885,000 100% 0.12%
**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a states' energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.

News items

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Wisconsin+Frac+Sand"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Wisconsin Frac Sand News Feed

  • Loading...

See also

External links

References

  1. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  2. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Wisconsin Profile Analysis," updated December 18, 2013
  3. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Wisconsin Profile Analysis," December 18, 2013
  4. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  5. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  6. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  7. Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Frac sand mining splits Wisconsin communities," July 28, 2013
  8. Economic Modeling Specialists, "The Economic Impact of Frac Sand Mining," accessed February 24, 2014
  9. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  10. Economic Modeling Specialists, "The Economic Impact of Frac Sand Mining," accessed February 24, 2014
  11. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  12. Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Frac sand mining splits Wisconsin communities," July 28, 2013
  13. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, "Project: Wisconsin's sand rush," accessed February 18, 2014
  14. U.S. Geological Survey, “Silica Statistics and Information,” accessed January 23, 2014
  15. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  16. New Republic, "Scott Walker's Sand Grab: Wisconsin Wants a Piece of the Fracking Boom, No Matter Who Gets Hurt," August 21, 2013
  17. The Christian Science Monitor, "Next fracking controversy: In the Midwest a storm brews over 'frac sand'(+video)," March 9, 2014
  18. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  19. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  20. Journal Sentinel, "Frac sand mining splits Wisconsin communities," July 28, 2013
  21. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  22. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  23. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  24. Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, "Frac sand in Wisconsin, Fact Sheet 05," accessed February 23, 2014
  25. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  26. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  27. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  28. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  29. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin," January 2012
  30. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, "Project: Wisconsin's sand rush," accessed February 18, 2014
  31. Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, "Frac Sand Mining," accessed February 24, 2014
  32. Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association, "WISA Members and Friends," accessed February 24, 2014
  33. Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association, "Code of Conduct," accessed February 24, 2014
  34. Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association, "About," accessed February 24, 2014
  35. Public Service Commission, "Natural Gas," accessed February 6, 2014
  36. Public Service Commission "Utility Statistics in Wisconsin," accessed February 4, 2014
  37. These figures come from the EIA State Profiles and Energy Estimates U.S. Energy Information Administration "Wisconsin Overview," accessed February 5, 2014