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S.F. No. 786 - Silica Sand Mining
 
Author: Senator Matt Schmit
 
Prepared By:
 
Date: February 26, 2013



 

S.F. 786 allows the counties of Southeastern Minnesota to form a joint powers board to establish a model ordinance that will provide the minimum standards for silica sand mining, transporting, processing, and storage.  Local units of government that adopt the model ordinance will have the option of an enhanced silica sand removal production tax.  The bill provides for a generic environmental impact statement on silica sand mining to be completed by May 1, 2014.  The bill also allows local units of government to extend their interim ordinances for silica sand operations until March 1, 2015, creates a state silica sand removal production tax, and allows the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to reject a responsible governmental unit (RGU) decision on the need for an environmental impact statement.

Sections 1 and 2 [EQB Authority] allow the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to reject a responsible governmental unit (RGU) decision on the need for an environmental impact statement within 30 days after the comment period.

Section 3 [Applicability] lists the counties of Southeastern Minnesota that are eligible to participate in the creation of the joint powers Southeastern Minnesota Silica Sand Board.

Section 4 [Definitions] defines terms for the purpose of the duties of the new board and for the silica sand removal production tax.

Section 5 [SE MN Silica Sand Board] provides for the creation of the new SE MN Silica Sand Board.  The board consists of one member chosen by each county participating in the joint powers board.  The board shall establish a scientific advisory committee with staff from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.  The board shall also appoint an advisory committee that must include representation from concerned citizens, local units of government, and the sand mining industry.  The board will be funded by member counties.

Section 6 [Plan Implementation] directs the SE MN Silica Sand Board to develop a plan with minimum standards for protection of resources from silica sand mining.  Local units of government within the counties of SE MN can adopt the plan and be more restrictive.  Local units of government that adopt the plan and adopt the ordinances will be able to apply the enhanced silica sand production tax in this act.

Section 7 [Responsibilities of Other Governmental Units] directs state agencies and other political subdivisions to exercise their powers to further the purposes of the plan developed by the board and administer lands in accordance with the plan.

Section 8 [Silica Sand Removal Production Tax] creates an enhanced local silica sand production tax, with unspecified amounts, for local units of government who adopt the minimum standards plan that are developed by the SE MN Silica Sand Board.  The tax will be in lieu of the county authority to tax silica sand production under the aggregate tax provisions in current law.  If a local unit of government imposes the tax, the tax must also be imposed on imports of silica sand that have been extracted in an area not subject to the tax.  Included is a provision for revenue sharing when the silica sand is extracted in one jurisdiction and initially transported to another jurisdiction.  Payments and enforcement of the tax are modeled on the existing aggregate production tax in Minnesota Statutes, section 298.75.  Under subdivision 7, the allocation of the tax is for administration, road and bridge expenditures, environmental protection, economic development, and restoration of abandoned pits and quarries.  Up to five percent may be retained as an administrative fee.  The other allocations are unspecified.

Section 9 [State Silica Sand Production Tax] creates a state silica sand production tax with unspecified amounts.  The tax must also be imposed on imports of silica sand that have been extracted in other states.  Payment and enforcement of the tax are modeled on the existing aggregate production tax in Minnesota Statutes, section 298.75.   Revenue from the tax will be deposited in the general fund.

Section 10 [GEIS Silica Sand Mining, Transporting, and Facilities] directs the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to complete a generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) on silica sand mining, transporting, and facilities by May 1, 2014.  This section provides for the scoping of the GEIS to include the impact on water resources, other natural resources, air quality, existing businesses, state and local roads and bridges.  The EQB is directed to also include:

1. guidance for local units of government in applying phased and connected actions to silica sand mining, processing, and transfer facilities;

2.  necessary state law and rule changes to address issues identified in the GEIS.

By March 1, 2015, state agencies shall adopt the rule changes identified in the GEIS.  Also, all state and local permits issued after the day following final enactment must be modified to be consistent with the findings of the GEIS.

Section 11 [Interim Ordinance Extension or Renewal] allows local governments to extend or renew their interim ordinances prohibiting new or expanded silica sand mining, processing, or transfer facilities until March 1, 2015.  Under current law, local interim ordinances cannot be effective for longer than two years.

Section 12 [Appropriation] appropriates an unspecified amount from the general fund to the EQB for the GEIS.

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