Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Larry and I attended a lecture about frac sand mining that was sponsored last week by the Baraboo Range Preservation Association. The speaker, UW-Baraboo/Sauk County philosophy professor Dale Murray, explained the ethical dilemma around the controversial and growing practice of mining for silica that is used in the hydraulic fracturing "fracking" process in order to tap into natural gas reserves. Wisconsin is one of the Midwestern states that have the ideal type of sand for the job. The dilemma arises when you pit those who are trying to protect the environment and its fragile inhabitants, such as the Karner Blue Butterly, against those who sell the rights to silica mining on their land for economic reasons and those who benefit from the mining jobs. The mining sites are growing in such numbers that they are closely encroaching on Sauk County and the Baraboo Hills, thus a topic of keen interest to the Baraboo Range Preservation Association and its members. When confronted with weighty issues, such as frac sand mining, it is sometimes difficult to look at them from all of the many perspectives. Professor Murray did an excellent job of weighing the consequences of both sides and leaving the audience with much to think about. I personally tend to lean toward the side that wishes to protect the Baraboo Hills and the diverse species that call the Hills home. Then again, Professor Murray made a compelling case for the opposing viewpoint. So many issues in our world are not easy to solve. I believe that if one seeks a balanced approach, works diligently to keep communication lines open and makes every effort to find common ground, the world will be a better place and the weight of heavy issues may be lightened, if but a little.