Metal mining is one of the most damaging industrial activities conducted anywhere, with a worldwide legacy of environmental contamination. Maine has its own legacy of poor mining at the former Callahan mine in Brooksville. Shuttered 40 years ago, it’s still causing water pollution and has already cost Maine taxpayers more than $8 million in cleanup costs—and the biggest part of the cleanup has not even started.
Canada-based Irving Corporation, which is interested in digging a 600-acre open-pit mine at Bald Mountain in Aroostook County, started the current mining controversy five years ago. To help pave the way for this mine, Irving pushed through a bill in 2012 that directed the DEP to develop new, weaker rules for metal mining in Maine. Since that time NRCM and many others have worked hard to defeat these rules because they would not protect water quality or Maine taxpayers from mining pollution. Although the Legislature overwhelmingly defeated the weak rules in 2014 and 2015, the LePage Administration has brought those rules back—and lawmakers need to defeat them once again.
The proposed rules would expose Maine’s rivers, lakes, streams, and groundwater to toxic mining pollution that could persist for hundreds of years and could cost Maine taxpayers millions of dollars. We will work to defeat the weak mining rules, and to urge lawmakers to pass a new mining bill (LD 820) introduced by Sen. Brownie Carson (D-Cumberland County) that would ban mining in, on, or under floodplains, public lands, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters; require mining companies to pay enough money up front to cover major environmental disasters so taxpayers don’t have to, and that would curb groundwater pollution from mines.