by Whit Richardson, staff writer
AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Board of Environmental Protection is expected to vote Friday afternoon on new mining rules that would have implications for Aroostook County.
The citizen board is considering rules developed by the Department of Environmental Protection in accordance with LD 1853, new mining legislation enacted in 2012. The legislation came forward after Canadian timber company JD Irving Ltd. announced it wanted to mine a 500-acre site it owns on Bald Mountain in Aroostook County, where it believes there are substantial deposits of copper and zinc.
Opponents of the new rules, which would apply to the entire state, argue that they are not stringent enough.
The board, which has held multiple public hearings and accepted written public comments on the proposed rules, opened its Friday meeting by reviewing changes in the draft rules with DEP staff. At 11 a.m., the board opened the meeting to public comment. After a break for lunch, the board is expected to begin deliberations before taking a vote on the draft rules.
Robert Foley, the board’s chairman, told the Bangor Daily News he expected the vote would be made around 3 p.m.
If approved by the board, the draft mining rules would be sent to the Legislature for consideration.