the film
Commentaries and editorials

Yes to a Moratorium

by Richie Swanson and Barbi Bell
Winona Daily News, January 10, 2012

Joe Morse and Jim Riddle recently wrote thoughtful letters, listing many crucial questions Winona County can explore during a moratorium on frac sand mining. Two great rivers also provide perspective.

During the 1930s scientists and conservations warned Mississippi River dams would trap organic pollution, deprive water of oxygen and diminish aquatic life. They were ignored.

Now a zone of hypoxia spreads as large as Rhode Island below the river's mouth, and overloads of phosphorous and nitrogen sometimes choke and diminish the base of the river's food chain in Upper Mississippi backwaters.

During the 1930s scientists and conservationists also warned Columbia River dams would threaten the migration and spawning of salmon, a resource which sustained diverse cultures and human economies for centuries. They were ignored again. Now we must transport the fish around dams. We warm the planet, burning fossil fuels, trucking and flying tiny populations of salmon to artificial hatcheries dependent upon power grids.

During the 1930s, scientists and conservationists warned that old-growth forests such as the Singer Tract on the Tensas River, a Lower Mississippi tributary, were crucial for the ivory-billed woodpecker. The forests were sold to lumber companies for about $40 per acre. Recent reports of ivory-billed have not been confirmed. We evidently sold their world away, trying to improve hard times.

Tomorrow the people of Winona County will need clean air and clean water as much as Pacific salmon and Mississippi River ecosystems do. We will need a healthy world as much as the ivory-billed once did. The county must take sufficient time to address concerns of the entire public. It must make sure frac sand mining does not balloon the economy at the cost of vital resources everyone needs now and in the future.

Richie Swanson and Barbi Bell
Yes to a Moratorium
Winona Daily News, January 10, 2012

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