Johanna Rupprecht Letter: Response to Kaercher Column, Ortonville Independent

Bike Path. Photo by Anne Queenan.

To the Editor:

Mr. Kaercher, in last week’s editorial, correctly points out similarities between the proposed Strata quarry and developments in southeastern Minnesota. As a Big Stone County resident who grew up in Winona County, I write to extend that comparison.

The industry at issue in southeastern Minnesota is the mining of sand to use in hydraulic fracturing. While Strata intends to crush granite outcrops and haul away aggregate, other corporations are working to reduce sandstone hills in the Driftless Region to piles of sand to be shipped across the country for use in fossil fuel extraction. I oppose these destructive, exploitative developments. When arriving here, I was immediately fascinated by the unfamiliar landscape with beautiful outcrops stretching into the distance. These must be preserved as permanent community assets. Mr. Kaercher writes, “it would seem favorable solutions for all could be realized if a compromise can be reached,” but compromise is impossible when one side seeks to destroy that which is ancient and priceless. The problem of unemployment cannot truly be solved by outside corporations extracting local resources. No community’s situation is ever so desperate that its only option is to sell off its very landscape in exchange for dubious promises of economic prosperity.  Instead, new economies are being built, incorporating local arts, culture, foods, and other facets to celebrate, not exploit, each region’s unique features.

Mr. Kaercher also writes that “only time will bring the answer” to these controversies, and trusts that “all involved will use a thorough thought process!” Current Minnesota law protects communities’ right to secure that time and undergo that process by passing interim ordinances or land use moratoriums. Ortonville Township’s Board of Supervisors and local governments in several southeastern Minnesota counties have all recently exercised that right after citizen opposition to harmful development. However, bills now before the legislature would drastically weaken townships’, counties’, and cities’ ability to pass interim ordinances. All who support the right of communities to carefully consider and wisely react to anyproposed development should tell their legislators and Governor Dayton to oppose the threat to local control.

Johanna Rupprecht

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