M. Larson: Environment jeopardized

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The Maine Legislature will soon vote on the Board of Environmental Protection’s final version of rules relating to open pit mining in Maine.

In spite of last fall’s public testimony overwhelmingly in opposition to weakened rules, the BEP has offered final rules that make environmental degradation more likely and that ensure that Maine taxpayers will pay for clean-up and ongoing monitoring costs.

While mining companies make promises of many jobs and minimal impacts, the industry is notorious for massive problems with pollution and for companies that go bankrupt, leaving taxpayers with the cleanup costs.

The cleanup of the Callahan Mine in Brooksville, which closed in 1972, is ongoing and has cost taxpayers $23 million to date. The Kerr-American mine in Blue Hill ceased operations in 1977, leaving the site leaking thousands of pounds of zinc per year. Monitoring continues to this day.

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The proposed rules allow mines next to the majority of Maine’s lakes and rivers, jeopardizing billions of dollars in tourism revenue and thousands of jobs. They also allow unlimited pollution of ground water under the “mining area,” in spite of the Department of Environmental Protection’s admission that polluted groundwater will inevitably spread.

I am opposed to these rules, LD 1772, and hope to preserve Maine’s true economic engine, her natural treasures.

MaryAnn Larson, New Gloucester

Editor’s note: A public hearing before the Environment and Natural Resources Committee will be held at 9 a.m., Monday, Feb. 24, in Room 216 of the Cross Building in Augusta.

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