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Environmental board prepares silica advisory team

  RED WING, Minn. -- The state’s Silica Sand Technical Assistance Team is just about ready to begin advising local governments on mining and related impacts. The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board is scheduled to vote on formally establishing the team at a meeting Oct. 16 in St. Paul. Its purpose is “to provide local units of government assistance with ordinance development, zoning, environmental review and permitting, monitoring or other silica sand mining and processing issues,” according to a letter Tuesday from board Executive Director Will Seuffert. The team will combine representatives from several state agencies, including the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Pollution Control Agency, Department of Health, Board of Water and Soil Resources, and Department of Transportation. County, township and city governments can request help from the team either through general assistance regarding silica mining or an official recommendation for a specific project. Local governments are not required to abide by the team’s recommendations, but must include the reasoning behind their disagreement on the record of any decision, according to the board. All technical assistance team meetings will be open to the public under Minnesota law.