A recent Maine Compass written by Patricia Aho (March 1, “Shame on senator for questioning integrity of rule-making process”) explains strong efforts made by her staff when proposing environmental rules related to mining. I don’t doubt this.
I think Aho worked hard to do what the legislation approved in 2012 told her to do. I believe that she was asked to develop regulations that would allow mining for metals such as gold, silver, and copper at Bald Mountain even if there is some environmental damage because it would create jobs for people who need jobs.
A mine cannot operate unless the metals can be sold at a reasonable profit. The cost of mining must be less than the value of the metals being mined. It may be necessary sometimes to sacrifice environmental safety so that mining can happen.
Mining, as done in many parts of the world, does damage the environment, especially groundwater and surface water. If mining in Maine is to compete with this, we probably will have to allow contamination of water as well.
I have heard expert testimony that the mining standards proposed for Maine will result in water contamination problems for many decades. Humans or other creatures should not consume this contaminated water because it will make them sick or could even kill them. Too often, however, this happens.
These mining regulations will apply to other areas, not just Bald Mountain. It is not acceptable to allow contamination of even a few places in Maine in order to create a few mining jobs for probably only a few years. Our mining regulations should not allow this.
There should be safety factors so that if something happens that was not anticipated, our water still will be clean.
Clean water is more important than mining jobs.