MADISON - As part of Gov. Scott Walker's biennial budget, the State Legislature approved the hiring of two new engineers to focus on environmental compliance for industrial sand mines in Wisconsin.
The engineers started in early December at the Department of Natural Resources and will work on compliance activities connected to the industrial sand mining, processing and transportation industry.
"We appreciate the two new positions to work on this important issue," said Deb Dix, the agency's spokesperson for industrial sand issues. "We will continue to dedicate staff time and resources to this issue to help protect Wisconsin's public health and our natural resources."
Dix said the new staff will work in the northwest and southwest parts of the state where the largest number of industrial sand mines are currently permitted.
Tanner Connors is an air engineer who will work out of the DNR Eau Claire office and comes to the agency with several years of private and public sector experience throughout the Midwest. Connors will focus on industrial sand issues in Clark, Eau Claire, Jackson, Trempealeau (north) and Wood counties.
Frederick Myron Smith is an air engineer who will work out of the DNR La Crosse office and comes to the department with a wealth of knowledge in civil and environmental engineering. Smith will work out of the La Crosse office with responsibilities covering Crawford, Juneau, Monroe and Trempealeau (south) counties.
Sand and gravel mining has existed in Wisconsin for decades. Recent growth in the petroleum industry, however, has created a high demand for the Wisconsin sand that can be used for hydrofracking, a technique used to extract natural gas and crude oil from rock formations in other states.
The high demand has meant a significant increase in air and water requests, Dix noted, along with increased requests for endangered and threatened species and archeological reviews.
"Sand mines have the same requirements as other non-metallic mining operations in Wisconsin, so we needed more staff to work with our increased environmental compliance needs," said Dix.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Deb Dix, 715-421-7809