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Apr 4, 2012 4:00 PM by Brittany Wooley- KTVQ News

Fracking boom may bring sand mining to Montana

BILLINGS - Engineers are hoping Montana is a source of a soft sandstone needed to access underground natural gas and oil supplies in a controversial practice called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

One well in the Bakken requires three million pounds of frac sand, but there are currently no frac sand mines in the area.

The demand for frac sand is already greater than the supply, and it's only expected to grow.

Montana Tech petroleum engineer John Getty said Montana is ideally situated if frac sand were found, and the state would benefit economically from mining it.

"The potential for income to the state is pretty dramatic. You saw the analysis of the amount of material pumped just into the Bakken. It's possible that it could reach $80-million a year on average for the total impact to the state," Getty said.

According to Getty, the probablility of usable frac sand existing in Montana is good.

Frac sand mining has sparked significant controversy across the country in recent months over possible effects on air and water quality, road use and damage, and public safety.

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