Photo and article by Ramona du Houx
On February 25, 2015, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee held a public hearing on mining rules (LD 146) which demonstrated that Maine people from all parts of the state oppose environmentally weak mining rules. Twenty-four people from Aroostook County testified in person or submitted comments in opposition to the rules.
Not a single citizen from Aroostook County testified or submitted comments in support of the rules. Individuals from 64 Maine communities spoke at the hearing or submitted comments in opposition, with the highest number of opposition comments from any one town coming from Presque Isle.
Those who testified or submitted comments in opposition to the proposed rules at last week’s public hearing outnumbered those in support by 129 to 8.
The people of Maine clearly want to keep Maine's landscapes unharmed. They know the value in one of the state's best assets. With millions of out of state visitors flocking to Bar Harbor's Acadia National Park, it makes no sense to tarnish the pristine lands of Northern Maine. Too much of rural America has the scares left by greedy corporations.
The only testimony in support of these weak mining rules came from Aroostook Timberlands (a subsidiary of Irving Corporation), consultants that work for Irving, or from consultants or organizations that represent companies that would benefit from mineral mining in Maine.
This has been the pattern all along.
In fall of 2013, when these mining rules first came before the Board of Environmental Protection, 248 individuals from all parts of the state testified in person or submitted comments to oppose the draft mining rules, while only 16 individuals testified or submitted comments in support of the rules. An additional 2,000 people signed a petition submitted to the BEP expressing opposition to weak mining rules.
A top question facing lawmakers is whether they will recognize that Maine people oppose these weak rules that won’t protect our water quality and taxpayers, or whether they will side with Canada-based Irving Corporation and its in-state consulting firms who are trying to push through bad rules.