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Maine’s BEP Takes Another Shot at Controverial Mining Rules

Conservation advocates say today's Bureau of Environmental Protection hearing on mining affects a lot more areas than just Bald Mountain. (Judy Berk/NRCM)
Conservation advocates say today's Bureau of Environmental Protection hearing on mining affects a lot more areas than just Bald Mountain. (Judy Berk/NRCM)
September 15, 2016

Augusta, ME - The Bureau of Environmental Protection (BEP) will be back at it today (Thursday), considering mining rules that environmental advocates warn would pose grave risks to clean water in the state, and to the pocketbooks of Maine taxpayers. Comments from Jen Gray, staff attorney and advocate, Maine Audubon; and Nick Bennett, staff scientist, Natural Resources Council of Maine.


Supporters of open-pit mining appear to be hoping this time will be the charm, as the Bureau of Environmental Protection considers new rules today (Thursday) that conservation groups claim would weaken environmental protections. Jen Gray, a staff attorney with Maine Audubon, says she understands Mainers are likely focused on the open-pit mine proposed for Bald Mountain - but they need to know the proposed rules are far more wide-ranging.

"My understanding is the Bald Mountain site has particularly high levels of sulfur, which can put our resources at greater risk; but again, it's not just about the Bald Mountain site."

Gray says the new rules would, among other things, allow mining on and under Maine's Public Reserved Lands. The Board of Environmental Protection holds a public hearing on the mining rules at the Augusta Civic Center today (Thursday) at 9 A-M.


Nick Bennett is a staff scientist with the Natural Resources Council of Maine. He says the new rules indicate the LePage administration's Department of Environmental Protection is more interested in promoting mining than protecting Maine's natural resources.

"So, once again DEP is showing that it's not in touch with Mainers' concerns for protecting the integrity of taxpayers, who are so often left to foot the bill from mining disasters."

Gray notes lawmakers have twice rejected very similar rules.

"We expect that there will continue to be bipartisan opposition to the rules, until they're done in a way that will protect our aquatic resources and our taxpayer dollars.
"

Gray says in both 2014 and 2015, Maine lawmakers rejected proposed rules that would have allowed what she calls "dangerous" mines near some of the state's most treasured public land.

Supporters of open-pit mining appear to be hoping this time will be the charm, as the Bureau of Environmental Protections considers new rules today (Thursday) that conservation groups claim would weaken environmental protections. The latest from Mike Clifford.

at 9 AM.

Reach Gray, 207-781-2330 x 224) jgray@maineaudobon.org; Bennett at 207-430-0116.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME