Opinion

Weak mining rules return to the legislature Monday morning, for the third time

Posted:  Friday, March 17, 2017 - 10:45am
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A hearing on seven metal mining bills is scheduled for Monday, March 20 at 9 a.m. at the legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee (Room 216, Cross Office building) in Augusta. As in years past, we expect to see many citizens from around the state who will travel to Augusta to testify in opposition to mining pollution in Maine.

The Maine Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) passed weak rules in January that could lead to polluting metal mines throughout Maine. LD 395 is the bill that enacts these weak rules. NRCM opposes this bill because it won’t protect Maine people and our economy and environment.

Instead, NRCM supports LD 820, which would amend the state’s 2012 mining law and require strong new protections against mining pollution and strong new rules as well. 

BACKGROUND

In 2014 and 2015, the Legislature overwhelmingly defeated bad mining rules that would have allowed dangerous mines near some of Maine’s most treasured places, including Bald Mountain by the Fish River in Aroostook County, Cobscook Bay, and Moosehead Lake. Legislators from both parties heard from hundreds of Maine people that these bad rules would not protect Maine’s clean water and taxpayers.

Unfortunately, the BEP again passed weak rules in January. LD 395 is the bill that enacts these weak rules.

Maine people depend on clean water to support critical economic engines for our state: tourism, fishing, hunting, guiding, paddling, and many other activities. Wildlife watching, hunting, and fishing combined are worth about $1.4 billion annually. Fishing alone is worth $370 million per year. Maine lakes support about 52,000 jobs with an economic impact of $3.5 billion annually. Weak mining rules are a serious threat to our clean water and sustainable, job-creating industries that depend on a clean environment. 

As recent mining disasters in British ColumbiaColorado, and Brazil—have illustrated, Maine needs strong, clear mining laws and rules to protect our water, woods, and wildlife! Maine cannot allow mining companies to pollute our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters or leave taxpayers with the huge costs of cleaning up polluted sites.