Sand Mine Owner and Big GOP Donor Sued by Neighbors

May 1, 2019

Forty Trempealeau County residents who live next to two frac sand mining operations have sued the company, which is owned by a big state Republican Party contributor.

Four complaints allege that a mine and railroad facility located in Blair and Whitehall and owned by Hi-Crush Proppants, of Houston, Tex., produce air, water, and noise pollution that have reduced the plaintiffs’ property values and quality of life.

Hi-Crush co-founder Robert Rasmus and his employees have contributed more than $340,000 to former GOP Gov. Scott Walker and the state Republican Party.

Rasmus contributed $305,000 to the state Republican Party between September 2014 and last December. Rasmus also contributed $25,000 to Walker’s campaign between January 2012 and December 2018.

Walker also received $11,005 in campaign contributions from three of Rasmus’s employees – Vice President Chad McEver, of Eau Claire, Wis., Operating Officer Jefferies Alston, of Amite, La., and Shipping Manager Michael Franks, of Independence, Wis.

Last year, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) decided not to fine Hi-Crush for a 10-million-gallon sludge and wastewater spill onto nearby farm fields and into the Trempealeau River.

Earlier, Hi-Crush was fined $52,000 in July 2014 by the state of Wisconsin for operating two wells at its mine in Augusta without DNR approval.