THE EFFECT OF INCREASED DEMAND FOR FRAC SAND IN LASALLE COUNTY, ILLINOIS, THE NO. 1 PRODUCER OF INDUSTRIAL SAND BY COUNTY IN THE U.S.A
Increased demand for industrial sands, mostly fueled by the increase in the “slack-water hydraulic fracturing” process for extraction of oil and natural gas, has led to increased sand production from the existing mines, and to the siting of two additional large sand mines and one small mine along the Illinois River. All of the currently producing mines have for several decades operated on the north side of the Illinois River. One of the new large (about 80 acres) mines, however, is on the south side of the Illinois River and is adjacent to Starved Rock State Park, which is considered to be (and rightly so) the most popular State Park in Illinois. Because of the controversy surrounding this mine site, the LaSalle County Board instituted a moratorium on permitting sand mine operations in the county. The continued demand, and related economic benefits, of mining frac sand, however, has resulted in a nearby municipality annexing the areas of the proposed second and third new mines, thus skirting the County-wide moratorium, but not without additional controversy.