The future of Maine’s wilderness and communities is in jeopardy as the Maine Board of Environmental Protection reviews the recently proposed changes to mining rules that open the door for open-pit mining throughout Maine and set a precedent for environmental degradation.

Open-pit mining is extremely disruptive to land and scientifically proven to contaminate surrounding wilderness, groundwater and watersheds. Proposed sites in Maine, such as Aroostook County’s Bald Mountain, are pristine wilderness areas with high risks of contamination. The ore in Bald Mountain is high in sulfur and arsenic, which leads to acid mine drainage and the leaching of arsenic, which is a highly potent poison.

Proposed mining companies ensure their practices are safe and their endeavors will bring jobs to a stifled Maine economy, but both of these claims are without sufficient evidence. Historic mines, such as Callahan mine, which was active in the late 1960s, is now a Superfund site that has cost taxpayers $23 million in cleanup costs.

With uncertain benefits and all-too-certain risks, mining Bald Mountain is a bad idea. The new rules and the mining of Bald Mountain and other areas in Maine will benefit only mining companies, while deteriorating wilderness and local communities.

Citizens of Maine have the opportunity to weigh in on the state’s proposed mining regulations. Responses to the new rules must be submitted by 5 p.m. Monday to Jeffrey Crawford; email at [email protected]

I urge others to join me in writing to the BEP and demand that the state’s wilderness and communities are protected from greedy corporations. We must not allow the exploitation of Maine’s resources and people. We need to keep Maine healthy, clean and beautiful.

John WoodsideWaterville