Citizens in Hillsboro, MO who have been working hard to preserve the air and water quality as well as the landscape near their homes since learning last year of a developer’s plans to build a silica sand mine got some good news on Friday – the developer has shelved plans to build a silica sand mine near their homes! This important agricultural and residential area will be preserved, and the hard work of many dedicated people trying to save their neighborhood really paid off.
Great Rivers Environmental Law Center has represented the citizens since the spring of 2018. First the citizens convinced the Planning and Zoning Board to deny the application for the silica sand mine. Then the citizens achieved the same result with the County Commission.
The silica sand from the proposed mine would be used for fracking, which is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
The County denied the application for many reasons, including that the proposed mine would destroy the tranquility and quality of life for residents in the neighborhood, the mine would cause an increase in traffic, noise, dust, health hazards and stormwater runoff to the surrounding residential area, and the mine would cause increases in noise, water and air pollution.
But then the developer sued, asking the court to reverse the decision of the County Commission and seeking monetary compensation. The citizens sought intervention in that lawsuit, and they as well as the County argued the lawsuit was without merit. On January 10, the developer dropped his request that the court reverse the order of the Commission. The developer still is seeking monetary compensation from Jefferson County in order to make up what he will not make by not being able to mine in this location. Furthermore, the developer has been purchasing other parcels of land, so although one neighborhood is spared, more may be in danger of being polluted. Great Rivers and the citizens who have been active will watch to see what happens next.
The motion to intervene is rescheduled for a hearing on February 1, 2019 in the Jefferson County Circuit Court. The citizens are weighing their request for intervention on the basis of this new development in the lawsuit.