Tag Archives: hydraulic fracking

Timber company’s sand plants would destroy Wisconsin wetlands

A timber company subsidiary is looking to build a pair of sand processing facilities in western Wisconsin that would eliminate more than 16 acres of wetlands.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Meteor Timber wants to build sand drying plant along Interstate 94 in Monroe County and a sand mine 14 miles away in neighboring Jackson County. Together the facilities would be valued at $65 million and create nearly 100 jobs, the newspaper reported.

Sand would be trucked from the mine to the drying plant. Meteor would build a 10-mile railroad spur to a Union Pacific line to transport the sand to Texas oil fields, where it would be used for hydraulic fracking.

The project would eliminate 16.6 acres of wetlands, including more than 13 acres of hardwood swamp. Jeffrey M. Olson, a section chief for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, called some of that land pristine, saying it’s never been touched.

The state Department of Natural Resources has issued 60 wetland permits to sand operators since 2008, allowing the destruction of 26 acres.

Meteor’s wetland use would amount to 60 percent of that total.

Meteor needs approval from both the DNR and the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed. Both entities require that disturbing wetlands be avoided whenever possible but Meteor is trying to persuade the DNR and the corps that no alternative sites are suitable.

Midwest Environmental Advocates, an environmental law firm, is representing the Ho-Chunk Nation, which has tribal trust lands in the area. The firm is urging the corps and the DNR to deny permits for the project. Sarah Greers, an attorney for the firm, questioned why other sites can’t be found and why the company wants to build the facilities since the sand mining industry has slowed.

Christopher Mathis, managing director of real estate for Meteor, said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel that the company is sensitive to wetland impacts but can’t find any other commercially viable sites.

Meteor would preserve 358 acres on the property, shut down a cranberry marsh and remove dams from the marsh to naturalize a creek on the property, the Journal Sentinel reported. The company also would pay to restore wetlands in the same watershed.

Meteor, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Timberland Investment Resources, has nearly 50,000 acres in forest holdings in Wisconsin.



State of emergency declared in Oklahoma following record earthquake

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency after a magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck nine miles northwest of Pawnee this morning.

The record-tying earthquake in north central Oklahoma also prompted regulators to order the shutdown of 35 disposal wells used by frackers over a 500-square-mile area.

Today’s quake tied the state’s previous record in 2011. It shook parts of the Midwest and was felt from Houston to North Dakota. Six after-shocks followed the quake, including one that registered 3.6.

Earlier this week, a 3.2 quake occurred in the same spot as today’s, which is about 70 miles northeast of Oklahoma City

Scientists believe hydraulic fracking operations are responsible for the growing number of Oklahoma earthquakes. The injections can alter stresses that hold geologic faults together and let them slip, unleashing earthquakes.

An increase in earthquakes measuring 3.0 or higher in Oklahoma has paralleled the growing volume of underground wastewater disposal from oil and natural gas production. According to earthquaketrack.com, there were 15 earthquakes today in the state, 114 in the past month, and 2,506 in the past year.

In parts of the state, the number of tremblers matches those in northern California. In 2014, Oklahoma surpassed California as the nation’s most quake-prone state.

Oklahoma’s quakes are shallow — five miles or less below the surface — while California’s go as deep as 400 miles. Deep surface earthquakes are stronger and more destructive.

Sean Weide in Omaha, Nebraska, told The Associated Press that he’d never been in an earthquake before and thought he was getting dizzy. Weide said he and one of his daughters “heard the building start creaking” and said it “was surreal.”

At least one minor injury was reported today. A man protecting his child suffered a head injury when part of a fireplace fell on him. The man was treated at a hospital and released.

Buildings in Pawnee’s “downtown” area were cracked and the sandstone facing on some buildings fell, according to reports.

Oklahomans have a complicated relationship with the fracking industry. An estimated one in six workers in the state owe their paychecks either directly or indirectly to the industry. But fears about the growing frequency and magnitude of the seismic events have alarmed large numbers of residents.

Oil industry and government officials deny that hydraulic fracking is causing the quakes. Oilmen have pressured scientists and geologists at local universities not to address the subject.

The wells ordered shut down today will remain closed for 10 days.