Glenwood City, Wis., is home to just 1,200 people, but on Tuesday the voices of the town’s residents will reverberate statewide. They'll be casting ballots dealing with one of Wisconsin’s fastest-growing environmental threats: mining for sand that’s used by the fracking industry.
Mayor John Larson is among the members of the city council who want to redraw the city’s borders, annexing silica-rich farmland into city limits and allowing a Texan company, Vista Sand, to mine it. Larson believes a frac-sand mine could help solve the city’s economic woes. “We have a beautiful little town,” Larson told The Dunn County News. “But we educate our kids, then watch them move away because there are no jobs.”
Larson refused to put the annexation and mine proposal up for a citywide referendum, opting instead to negotiate with mine company officials during closed-door meetings. That sparked a lot of anger among townsfolk worried about the air pollution, heavy truck traffic, noise, and water contamination that so often accompany frac-sand mining.