by Tim Goff
WCSH-6 TV news story
AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The Maine Board of Environmental Protection held a public hearing to solicit input on proposed changes to the states mining regulations.
In 2012, the Maine Legislature passed a law requiring the BEP to modernize its rules governing mining in light of renewed interest in extracting minerals and metals and complaints that the laws in place made it next to impossible to do any mining in the state.
“They were outdated. They didn’t reflect current practices, and best science, best practices,” explained Anthony Hourihan, director of land development for Aroostook Resources Incorporated. “Where Maine’s laws were, back from the 1990s, they didn’t reflect current practices and technologies and they were a barrier to any mining in this state.”
Hourihan says he hopes this review will put more workable rules in place to help companies interested in doing research and exploration in the state.
“It is not about any given project,” stated Hourihan. “It is about the process of getting rules in place so that potential applicants can look at projects and see if they are able to permit them in Maine or not.”
“These proposed changes are greatly weakening the previous rules that we have had since the 1990s,” Said Nick Bennett, staff scientist for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “They will allow much more extensive pollution of groundwater, and that in turn will lead to pollution of Maine’s surface water.”
He believes these proposed rule changes are not strict enough and could potentially lead to problems down the road.
“We are saying that if mining is going to happen in Maine, we had better learn from all the mistakes that have happened here and across the country,” explained Bennett. “And there a lot of those mistakes.”
The Maine Board of Environmental Protection will be soliciting testimony until October 28th. From there, they will issue their findings and deliver their recommendations to the legislature.