I attended the legislative hearing about mining rules changes until noon, but then left as I was way down the list of people waiting to testify.

Like probably most Mainers, I think that the risks of mining contamination far outweigh the relatively few benefits for ordinary people, as opposed to the corporate profits anticipated. This is what I would have said, had I testified:

Promoters of open-pit mining no doubt will suggest that allowing it will increase job opportunities, but this is a short-sighted perspective. Our valuable visitor economy — from hotels and motels to restaurants and water sports are all dependent on a relatively pristine environment. We need clean air and water, unobstructed views, and valid perceptions of unspoiled natural beauty. This has worked well for Maine for many decades and is likely to continue to do so.

Open-pit mining is incompatible with such a set of values, and will benefit mainly large corporate interests for whom a wholesome environment is of little concern. Yes, there may be a few short-term jobs, but these pale in comparison to what we have now and could lose by default.

I am reminded of the fable of the dog with the juicy bone who sees his reflection in the nearby stream showing a dog with a bone. He wants that bone, too. He opens his mouth to grab it, only to lose the one he has in the stream.

There may be a way to safely conduct some small-scale shaft mining. However, those who promote open-pit mining that would have Maine’s scenic mountains end up like those of West Virginia and Kentucky seem to be competing with pickerel for brain size, or else have sold themselves for campaign donations. This is a conclusion with which I believe most reasonable people would concur.

Jon Olsen Jefferson

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