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In the past year, the number of permitted frac sand mines in Wisconsin has doubled, and mine operators promise to create jobs and give communities a new economic engine. This story explores the positive and negative economic impacts of the rapidly growing sand industry, from the potential to create thousands of jobs to expensive wear and tear on the state’s rural roads. We are offering a 2,000 word mainbar story, a 1,000 word condensed version, three sidebar stories, seven photos, two infographics, and the statewide map of frac sand facilities we published in July.
(These versions of the Mainbar were updated Aug. 15 with recall election results, as Sumner board member Jim Crotteau topped a field of three candidates Tuesday, Aug. 14, with 135 votes. Coming in second was Ed Werts with 131 votes. Since neither got more than 50 percent of the vote, they are expected to square off in a final recall election Sept. 11.)
Sand Mining Creates Jobs Full Version
Sand Mining Creates Jobs Condensed Version
Sidebar: A profitable mine site
Sidebar: Future of frac sand unclear
Sidebar: Sand plant by the numbers
Moses Wengerd monitors the processing operation at the Preferred Sands plant in Blair, Wis., on June 20, 2012. Lukas Keapproth/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
From bottom right, a conveyor carries sand from the crushing area to a wash plant tower to be washed and sorted by grain size at the Preferred Sands plant in Blair, Wis., on June 20, 2012. Lukas Keapproth/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Preferred Sands' employees install a safety fence around the crushing area of the mine in Blair, WI, June 20, 2012. Lukas Keapproth/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Covered semi-trucks carry sand from mines in Wisconsin to Winona, Minn. for processing and shipping along the Mississippi River, June 21, 2012. Lukas Keapproth/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
A yard sign declares support for the sand mining industry in Mondovi, Wis. Several mines are in development in this small town in northern Buffalo County. June 14, 2012. Kate Prengaman/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
A Chippewa Sand Transport truck hauls sand between the EOG Resources' mines and the processing plant in Chippewa Falls. An independent company that contracts with the EOG plant, Chippewa Sand Tranport employs 72 people, including 60 truck drivers. Credit: Chippewa Valley Newspapers
The frequency of rail cars blocking roads and noise from the increase in train traffic has led to public complaints. But the local operator Progressive Rail has added jobs and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into rail line improvements to accommodate the sand industry in the Chippewa County area. Credit: Chippewa Valley Newspapers.
Infographics and Map:
The infographic below shows the DOT estimate that Wisconsin could soon produce 50 million tons of frac sand a year. The image below is a .png image, but a .jpg is available for download here .
A chart of the national increase in frac sand production over the past decade. Source: U.S. Geological Survey
Map of all of the frac sand facilities operating and proposed in Wisconsin as of July 1st, 2012
An interactive google map is available to embed. Detailed information about each site is available when the site is clicked on. Currently, the legend is only available as a separate image file. The code for the interactive Google map can be downloaded here: wi_sand_map If you have questions about embedding the interactive map, email Kate Golden at email@example.com.