May 9, 2016
The owners of the nation’s most dangerous frac sand mine gave $8,100 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker over the last few years.
The company is called Pattison Sand. It has an underground mine in Clayton County, Iowa, near the Mississippi River across from Prairie due Chien, Wis. The company recently sought permission from Clayton County to have land rezoned for a seven-fold expansion of the mine.
Last week, the Center for Investigative Journalism reported that the company has paid $279,000 in fines for 934 violations cited by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) between April 2005 and January 2016. Pattison’s Iowa mine has had more workplace safety violations than any other industrial sand mine in the U.S., according to the Center’s review of the MSHA data. One violation was for a 2008 accident that killed a worker.
The MSHA said the bulk of the violations were for simple electrical and equipment defects, but others included exposing workers to airborne contaminants, a lack of protective equipment and clothing for workers, and failing to provide at least two ways to get out of the mine to the surface.
In August 2013, Pattison opened a surface frac sand mine in Bridgeport, Wis., near Prairie du Chien that does not operate full time. The MSHA has cited the Bridgeport mine for seven violations and $824 in fines.
Members of the Pattison family, who also own Pattison Brothers, of Lafayette, Iowa, contributed $8,100 to Walker between March 2012 and March 2014. Pattison family members also contributed $1,000 to GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, in March 2012 and $1,000 to Republican Rep. Lee Nerison, of Westby, in November 2014.
Fracking is a method that uses fine silica sand, water and chemicals that are pressurized and used to break up underground rock to get at deep oil and natural gas deposits.