I thought I might take this opportunity to allay his concerns because the detrimental affects of tourism that Paul is so worried about are non-existent. For instance, in the most recent weeks; my wife, Jo, and I – along with approximately 3,000 other people, attended the Frozen River Film Festival. Festival participants walked throughout the WSU campus as they moved from one movie venue to another. Many climbed two floors of stairs to eat specially prepared and healthy food. Others walked to the festival from their homes or from cars parked several blocks away.
Last Friday night, I walked from my home in Wincrest and joined Jo, in a downtown restaurant. We then walked to the Masonic Temple and climbed their long flight of stairs to view the play “Angels in the Trees.” We talked with others who also walked to this play.
Clearly, attending plays and concerts outside of the home is likely to result in more physical exercise than common pass-times like watching vigorous physical activities on a TV inside the home.
I might add that activities such as viewing the sorts of films that the festival presents, or attending Shakespearean or other live play events, or going to orchestra concerts also challenge the mind – so important when people get as old as Paul and me.
I venture to say that only a few cars involved in both of these events were diesels. Moreover, during the Frozen River Film Festival, the maximum number of likely car trips (two people per car) into and out of the core city would have been 3,000 per day –for three days. That totals 9,000 trips. This happens once each year.
When frac sand mining reaches its peak, it is likely that well over 2,400 truck trips per day will enter and leave Winona. That’s 12,000 trips every week and 624,000 truck trips every year! Moreover, all of those trucks have diesel engines!
Clearly, automobile air pollution caused by tourist traffic is a non-issue.
I would also like to point out a few more relevant facts about the frac sand mining industry:
Each frac sand mine employs about 20 people and maybe up to 75 truck drivers. Processing facilities in Winona may employ another 10-20 people each. Their paychecks, the royalties paid to property owners, and taxes paid to local units of government are the only money that will be left in the area. The rest goes – where?
Silicone-caused lung disease in such a concentrated mining and processing environment has not been adequately studied. These fine particles of silicone are not sand. They are more akin to shards of glass. They are literally the remnants of the binding agents that bound the sand particles together as sandstone.
The impact on our underground water table caused by extracting the amount of water needed to clean the sand and mitigate air pollution has not been fully addressed.
The use of chemicals in this water and the attendant ground pollution is an unknown.
So, Mr. Paul Double, as a representative of the people on the Winona City Council; I would encourage you to open your mind, to listen to people on both sides of the frac sand mining and processing issue - and to arrive at rational conclusions about where the city of Winona should interface with these industries.
After you are finished, please consider participating in one of the many cultural activities in Winona. Have a bit of cheese and a glass of wine.
Indeed, it will be good for you.
This commentary was first published January 17, 2013 by the Winona Daily News