The bill would tighten permitting and clean-up requirements for open-pit mining operations in Maine.
by Jennifer Mitchell
The Maine House has given preliminary approval to a bill that would tighten permitting and clean-up requirements for proposed open-pit mining operations. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Jeff McCabe, of Skowhegan, says the legislation is an insurance plan for the future, should more mining companies choose to develop here.
“We want to make sure that what we decide today does not affect water quality for generations to come,” McCabe said.
But LD 1302 has faced some opposition from representatives from Aroostook County, who see it as a response to J.D. Irving’s interest in mining metals on Bald Mountain – an enterprise that could bring economic benefit to an area hit by a dwindling population and lack of jobs.
Republican Rep. Bernard Ayotte, of Caswell, says people from southern Maine have testified that they see Aroostook County as “a place of spiritual renewal” – something they say would be destroyed by a mining operation. But Ayotte says Aroostook people can’t survive on spiritual renewal. “We actually need food on the table,” he said.
The mining-restrictions bill passed in a 91-49 vote; it faces additional votes in both the House and Senate.