The newspaper published a letter by Michael Vernon on March 1, “For efficiency’s sake, democracy thrown away,” about a meeting held in Bingham by the Department of Environmental Protection. The writer said that only technical expert testimony was wanted by the DEP (no other public comments) The same letter writer told about a legislative bill, L.D. 1750, that would “require DEP to exclude the public’s opinions if not expert certified.”

L.D. 1750, if enacted, will put in place Maine laws saying that if an agency makes a decision contrary to a conclusion by the agency’s expert, the agency must identify “with specificity” the basis for rejecting the expert’s conclusion. This raises the expert to a level above the agency’s staff, other experts who testify at public hearings, and far above members of the public who “merely” live in the area under discussion.

My family lived in Brooksville, during the second brief period that the Callahan Mine operated there. Brooksville was desperate for jobs at the time. Sound familiar?

Townspeople lived with the results after the mine closed after a few years, leaving a contaminated environment behind. Now the Callahan Mine area is a federal Superfund site. It took 39 years to get the cleanup started.

Every year, the state pays for 10 percent of the cost of the Callahan Mine Superfund site cleanup. Someone at the New England office of the federal Environmental Protection Agency that this is because decades ago Maine officials didn’t follow the law properly when they approved the mine or supervise it properly while it operated.

I think there might be something here of interest to current lawmakers. But it isn’t technical expert information. It’s coming from people who lived in Brooksville all those years ago — or their survivors (like me) and their current legislator.

Jane E. EdwardsWinslow

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