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The Price of Sand: Documentary Investigates Communities Divided

Jim Tittle
screenshot from the documentary

When a silica sand mining company bought 160 acres near his mother’s home in Eastern Minnesota, Jim Tittle had lots of questions.

“I had no idea what the sand was used for at first, and I didn’t even know what fracking was,” he explains.  Silica sand is used in the process of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.”  Tittle says once residents found out a mine was slated to open, some fought hard against it and hired a lobbyist to represent them at the statehouse. But not everyone was on the same page; many were in favor of the jobs the mine would bring.

After researching towns where mines had opened, Tittle found many other communities that were deeply divided.  There is currently a moratorium on mining in Allamakee and Winneshiek counties in Northeast Iowa.

In his film The Price of Sand, Tittle investigates how silica sand mines in Minnesota and Wisconsin have divided communities and affected the environment. It’s one of many films that will be shown this weekend at the Landlocked Film Festival in Iowa City.

See the trailer:


Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa