(St. Paul, MN) -- A controversial one-year moratorium on new or expanded "frac sand" mining operations in Minnesota cleared its first state Senate committee today (Tues) on an 8-to-4 vote. Southeastern Minnesota residents complain of noise, dust and water pollution from ramped-up silica sand mining. But Fairmont Republican Julie Rosen objects a moratorium on the entire state "sends huge signals out" that will hurt agriculture and small business. Bill sponsor, Red Wing Democrat Matt Schmit responds the Minnesota Farmers Union and other ag interests have asked him to look into the issue. Schmit says a lot of questions have been identified and he's proposing an expedited process to get answers. The North Dakota oil boom has increased demand for "frac" or silica sand, which is used for drilling.