My family operates a MOFGA-certified, organic farm in Whitefield, and I support legislation to place strict regulations on mining (L.D. 1302) because I cherish Maine’s abundant-but-threatened supply of clean, fresh water.

Water lies at the core both of how our state perceives itself and how it presents itself to the rest of the world. Our water is literally our brand, and we are world renowned.

While teaching in local public schools, I met a Cuban-born colleague who reminisced about how her father had gone to considerable expense to protect his family’s health by importing carboys of Poland Spring’s famous product.

Sadly, mining companies have a terrible millenia-long track record of polluting our most valuable resource. The Tinto River in southwestern Spain has been permanently polluted by acidic runoff from mining that began more than 3,000 years ago.

Headwater streams of 40 percent of the watersheds in the Western U.S. are contaminated with heavy metals from mining pollution, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

In Maine, we have foul evidence of the industry’s habit of extracting short-term profits and leaving both the pollution caused by mining and the long-term costs for the public to pay.


The Callahan mine in Brooksville operated for only four years, leaving taxpayers with an estimated clean-up bill of $23 million. Forty years later, most of the damage has yet to be mitigated.

Debate during the 2012 legislative session ended in the scuttling of our existing environmental protections around mining. Lobbyists for JD Irving Ltd. insisted they would treat contaminated water from their proposed mine.

For millennia? Let’s not kid ourselves: They’re not in it for the long run, but if we care about our legacy we must be.

Jim Torbert


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