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Frac sand permit near Black River Falls expected to be decided in court

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources’ secretary has decided not to reinstate a permit for a $75 million sand processing plant in Monroe County.

DNR Secretary Preston Cole signed a decision Tuesday that closes the agency’s review of a judge’s decision to revoke a permit allowing Meteor Timber to fill 16.25 acres of wetlands, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

The DNR granted the permit in 2017 near Black River Falls, despite finding that the project would result in “permanent and irreversible” impacts and the loss of 13.4 acres of “exceptional quality” imperiled habitat, the Journal added. Clean Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation challenged the permit at the time. They said would open the door to the destruction of more rare wetlands.

An administrative law judge revoked the permit in May 2018, finding that the agency lacked enough information to grant it. The judge wanted more information as to how the company might replace the wetlands.

Meteor Timber later that month asked the DNR to review the judge’s decision and decide whether to honor it.

Cole says the dispute would be best resolved by mutual agreement or in court.

Meteor attorney John Behling says the company is reviewing Cole’s decision.

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