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Minn. Lawmakers Start Silica Sand Mining Hearings

"The state needs to get involved now to help us protect our home," Schoen said.

Several state agencies handle some permits for mining companies. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issues air quality permits. The Department of Natural Resources oversees how much water companies use to clean their silica sand.

Combined with the land-use permits and other regulation from local governments, Tony Kwilas, director of environmental policy for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, argued that the silica sand mining industry "is one of the most heavily regulated industries that we have in this state."

Bobby King, an organizer for the Land Stewardship Project, said the state needs to respond to local governments' calls for help.

"We need to get out in front of it and develop those standards now," he said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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