Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Maine Mining Regulations

October 17, 2013
To Maine Board of Environmental Protection
Subject:  Testimony, Mining Regulations
Chairman Jeff Crawford, members of the board, thank you for this opportunity to testify.  My name is Alice Bolstridge.  I was born and grew up in Portage Lake, Maine, not far from Bald Mountain.  I remember the debate of the 90s about the feasibility of an open pit mine at that site, and I remember the conclusion then that an open-pit mine there would be an environmental disaster. 
My memory is supported by files of the Department of Environmental Protection from that time which state that open pit mining of Bald Mountain would likely pollute rivers, lakes and streams with sulfuric acid runoff and arsenic pollution and would produce only 80-130 jobs at best, not the estimated 700 that JD Irving promises.
 I have heard an Irving spokesperson and other proponents of the proposed new mining rules claim that technical progress makes open-pit mining safe now.  I am not a scientist, but I am a good researcher.  I have been researching this issue for over a year and have not found evidence that supports those claims.

The DEP denies in a BDN article that they hid this information from lawmakers and the public, but they do not cite any evidence there that they provided the information, and they do not cite evidence that the claims about pollution or the economic consequences are untrue.  All evidence I trust indicates that we in Aroostook County will bear the environmental consequences of an open-pit mine at Bald Mountain and that all Maine taxpayers will bear the economic consequences of clean up long after the miners and the corporate profits have gone.  Indeed, we will be paying the costs for generations to come. 

The tobacco industry denied for generations that smoking is hazardous to human health, to preserve profits.  The football industry denies mounting evidence that concussion trauma causes permanent brain disease to football players, to preserve profits.  The fossil fuel industries still try to deny that carbon emissions cause global warming, to preserve profits.  If these proposed regulations are passed as written, the DEP and lawmakers who vote for them are in denial about the environmental hazards, for the hope of corporate profit. 

Please, look at all the evidence.  The proposed mining rules from DEP do not adequately protect water, air, or wildlife from mining pollution. nor do they protect Maine taxpayers from the cost of cleanup.  

If the claims about environmental safety made by the proponents of open-pit mining are really true, why do we need to weaken the environmental protections written in the rules of 1991? 

Alice Bolstridge