The city of Decorah has been asked to take a stand on frac-sand mining.

During its meeting last week, Decorah resident Jim McIntosh requested the Decorah City Council consider a resolution opposing the practice. McIntosh recently announced he would be running against Mayor Don Arendt in this fall's city election.

"People of Decorah look to the city administration to speak for and to focus our desires for the city we love. We therefore request that the mayor and the City Council employ its influence to convey our convictions to those who will be making the immense decisions that will affect our lives. We therefore ask that the city leadership consider and adopt the following resolution," McIntosh said in a written statement to city officials.

"Given the potential damage to personal health, our traditional way of life and to the environment the people of Decorah have grown to cherish, we the mayor and City Council of the city of Decorah stand with and support those opposing the institution of frac-sand mining in Winneshiek County."

McIntosh said although there would likely be "very little" frac-sand mining within the city of Decorah, it's important the city's position on the issue be known.

The Council referred McIntosh's request to the Council's community betterment committee.

County moratoriums

This spring, both the Allamakee and Winneshiek boards of supervisors imposed 18-month moratoriums on frac-sand mining, following local concerns about its effects on the landscape, air and water quality and infrastructure.

Frac sand is mined for use in the process of "fracking," short for hydraulic fracturing, an extreme extraction process used to release petroleum, natural gas from tightly compressed bedrock formations. Fractures are created after a hole is drilled into reservoir rock formations deep below the earth's surface.

Frac sand, or silica sand, is quartz sand of a uniform size and shape that is suspended in a proprietary mixture of chemicals and injected into the holes under high pressure, as much as 25,000 pounds per square inch. The chemical and sand slurry then enlarges and props open existing fractures, simultaneously creating even more fractures, allowing the oil or gas to be forced upward out of the well.