• Air: Mines and processing plants need air permits. All mines are required to have a fugitive dust control plan detailing how they will prevent dust across the site. Facilities that dry sand are required to stay under EPA levels for particulate pollution and monitor air quality on site. Silica exposure is a public health concern, and stray dust has been a source of complaints, so DNR has been sending information to mine operators on how to control it.
• Water: All mines need a stormwater permit. Those using a lot of water need a high-capacity well permit. And if they’re near wetlands or surface waters, other DNR regulations may apply.
• Local regulations: Local governments exert control through zoning, but many mines are in towns that don’t have zoning. Where there is zoning, towns can regulate issues like hours of operation, truck routes and speeds, covering of truck beds, mine depth and road repair liability through conditional use permits.
• Reclamation: Mines have to abide by NR-135, the nonmetallic mining reclamation rule. It’s administered by the counties with DNR oversight. Mines submit a detailed plan for how the site will be reclaimed before they start construction. They provide a bond to the county to cover the cost of the reclamation as well– if the mine goes out of business, the county has the funds for the reclamation.
— Adapted from DNR report, January 2012
“Nearly a 5th”? How about an actual number and what they were cited for?