2/20/13: Media Release: Chugging Backwards: Governor’s Budget Looks to Transport Sand, Not People

For immediate release: February 7, 2013
Contact: Anne Sayers, Program Director, 608-208-1129 (direct), 608-658-0186 (cell),

Chugging Backwards
Governor Looks to Transport Sand, Not People

Madison – As part of his proposed state budget tonight, Governor Walker announced plans to dedicate $60 million to freight rail, citing the need to haul frac sand from western Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s frac sand is used for hydraulic fracking in other parts of the country. Frac sand, acquired through open-pit mining, is an operation with very little oversight in western Wisconsin and it’s wreaking havoc on air and water quality and public health.

“Communities in western Wisconsin strongly oppose unregulated frac sand practices because of the damage it’s doing to air, water and public health. Minnesota is actually using Wisconsin as an example of how not to mine for frac sand. Yet Governor Walker is using his budget to lay the foundation to once again prioritize the desires of out-of-state mining companies over the needs of Wisconsin citizens,” said Anne Sayers, Program Director for Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

Open-pit frac sand mining:
 Endangers productive soils needed for agriculture.
 Damages surface waters.
 Draws down groundwater reserves.
 Exposes families to toxic chemicals like polyacrylamide (a common flocculant), which can turn into acrylamide, a neurotoxin and carcinogen.
 Exposes families to airborn particulate matter that is damaging to lungs.

At the same time, Governor Walker’s budget does not include funding for passenger rail. By rejecting $800 million in mass transit funding in 2011, Wisconsin is already falling decades behind in passenger rail, while our neighbors in Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois are speeding ahead.

“Governor Walker’s budget is taking us full-steam backwards. Under Governor Walker, Wisconsin continues to prioritize the archaic, extractive industries of yesteryear that have earned us the rating of 42nd in the nation in job creation. Clearly, Governor Walker’s approach isn’t working and this budget will only make matters worse,” Sayers concluded.