Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, and members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee:
My name is Nick Bennett. I am the Staff Scientist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), which is Maine’s largest environmental advocacy group with more than 20,000 members and supporters. I am testifying in opposition to LD 281 and the proposed changes to Chapter 692 for the following reasons:
- Concerning Section 3(A), allowing a 30% expansion of oil storage facilities on contiguous properties in wellhead protection zones just because they are contiguous defeats the purpose of wellhead protection zones. The purpose of wellhead protection zones is to keep out facilities that store or use materials that can contaminate drinking water. Clean drinking water sources are more valuable than oil storage facilities and exist only where nature puts them. We can build oil storage facilities in places other than wellhead protection zones.
- Concerning Section 4(A), allowing a 30% expansion of oil storage facilities on contiguous properties over significant aquifers defeats a fundamental purpose of this rule: protecting significant aquifers. Maine has put great effort into mapping sand and gravel aquifers, which are very good sources of drinking water, precisely to prevent their use for large-scale petroleum product storage. DEP should not allow oil storage facilities that should never have been located on or near significant aquifers in the first place to expand further into these aquifers simply because they own contiguous properties. Maine should locate oil storage facilities in other areas where they pose less of a threat to drinking water.
- Concerning Section 4(C)(1), we object to allowing a variance for an oil storage facility based solely on municipal zoning. Many municipal zoning ordinances have not had the benefit of current data on the location of aquifers. Drinking water sources in these zones may become important in the future. The existing rules help ensure that municipalities will not jeopardize their future drinking water supplies. DEP should not alter this section.
- Concerning Section 4(E), the location of the majority of a municipality in a sand and gravel aquifer should not be a reason to allow a variance for the siting of an oil storage facility. Such a facility should be located in parts of the municipality that are not in the aquifer.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this issue.