The Economics of Frac Sand

Posted on May 25, 2013


It all boils down to money. You can argue about the beauty of nature, the importance of clean water, or the health of our children. But money trumps them all.

While I was shooting “The Price of Sand”, it became obvious to me that even if you express everything in terms of money, frac sand mining is a bad deal. But I the local economists I contacted weren’t available for comment. One, in particular, responded to my request for an interview with, “I don’t want to appear in an ‘advocacy’ film.” I think he meant, “The governor of Wisconsin pays my salary.”

Since I wasn’t having any luck with the few local economists who had expertise in this area, I broadened my search. And that’s how I found Dr. Thomas Power, an expert on natural resources economics and mining. We corresponded, but my tiny production budget wouldn’t allow me to visit him at the University of Montana for an interview.

Recently, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a Minneapolis-based think tank, commissioned Dr. Power to research and write an study of the economics of the frac sand industry in western Wisconsin. And, when they brought him here for the press conference, I was able to put him in front of my camera and ask a few questions.

Here’s a link to Dr. Power’s study (phase one):

Video clips from my Q&A with Dr. Power will be posted here, soon.

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