Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies have enabled access to hydrocarbon deposits contained in shale rock formations located in Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, North Dakota, Utah, Denver, Texas, and other parts of the country. Rapid development of drilling in these regions has generated increased demand for 'frac sand.'
Frac sand is pumped deep into a well with water and chemicals and props open tiny fractures created in the shale bedrock, allowing hydrocarbons to flow into the well and back to the surface. A typical well requires between 1,500 and 2000 tons of sand. Hundreds of thousands of wells are active throughout the United States.
Government Reports and Websites
- WI DNR. 2012 (January). Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
- MN DNR. 2012 (October). Industrial Silica Sand: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
- MN EQB. 2013 (March). Report on Silica Sand: Final Report. Minnesota Environmental Quality Board.
News Reports and Websites
- Banerjee, Neela. 2012. Friction over fracking sand: Gas industry boom spurs mine growth in rural Wisconsin, pitting neighbor against neighbor. Chicago Tribune, November 14.
- Prengaman, Kate. 2012. Wisconsin frac sand sites double. WisconsinWatch.org, July 22.
- Smathers, Jason. 2011. Sand mining surges in Wisconsin. WisconsinWatch.org, July 31.
- Tosto, Paul. 2012. MPR News Primer: Frac sand mining. Minnesota Public Radio. Updated February 15, 2013.
- WisconsinWatch.org. Project: Wisconsin's sand rush. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
- Ongoing series of stories, primers, maps, and databases on the frac sand mining industry in Wisconsin. Excellent resource!
Progressive Media, Blogs, and Citizen Perspectives
- Redden, Molly. 2013. Scott Walker's Sand Grab: Wisconsin Wants a Piece of the Fracking Boom, No Matter Who Gets Hurt. The New Republic, August 21.
- Cantarow, Ellen. 2012. How Rural America Got Fracked. TomDispatch.com, May 20.
- WIvoices.org. 2012. Family Called "Collateral Damage" in Frac Sand Mining District. WIvoices.org
- Gerasimo, Pilar. 2012. Mining Companies Invade Wisconsin for Frac Sand. Eco Watch, April 27.
|Frac sand facilities in WI, July 2012. |
Source: Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
|Frac sand facilities in WI, July 2011.|
Source: Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
|Source: Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, August 2012|
|Glaser mine & processing plant, in Auburn, Chippewa County, WI, |
operated by Superior Silica Sands, based out of Kosse, TX.
Photograph by Thomas Pearson, July 19, 2013.