YARMOUTH — The recent emergence of interest in the potential for mining in Maine and the subsequent call to review mining legislation and rules have prompted many requests from numerous sources for information on mining in general and a potential mining prospect in Aroostook County, in particular.

Over the past year professional, credentialed experts in engineering, geology, economics, water, and mine reclamation have given presentations on mining in Maine including the potential social impacts of mining. The presentations were hosted by the Maine Geological Survey, Geological Society of Maine, University of Maine, The Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program, University of Maine at Presque Isle, and the Maine Land Use Planning Commission. In addition, the Maine Legislature completed in 2011 a nine-day public work session and two public meetings that focused on comprehensive, educational, fact-based information on the mining issues for Maine.

Maine law requires that metallic mining rules undergo review and approval before finalization. Draft rules will be submitted to the Board of Environmental Protection for approval followed by further examination by the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee, with finalization before the full Legislature.

It is disturbing and disappointing that despite the efforts by qualified scientists and professionals, much misinformation has been delivered by anti-mining activists to the media and various “informational” panels and reports throughout the state.

One such report, “Mining in Maine: A Panel Discussion” by the Natural Resources Council of Maine, has expressed inaccurate, intolerant, fear-generating and self-serving views. Its subsequent investigative report: “Bald Mountain Mining Risks: Hidden From the Public,” authored by a young activist with the title of senior scientist, uses poorly identified photos in a report designed to tell the “truth” about potential mining at Bald Mountain. The report shows acid mine drainage from western Pennsylvania, but does note that it is from a coal mine, as no massive sulfide mines exist in that portion of the state. The report falsely uses examples of mines operated as early as 1800s and closed prior to the establishment of environmental regulations as examples of current practice.

The report selectively goes on to proclaim J.S. Cummings, the discoverer of the Bald Mountain ore body, as “opposed to open-pit mining” but fails to include his recommendation for an underground mining operation instead.

It is self serving for the NRCM to infer that consultants’ reports would be hidden or ignored by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection or by the companies which paid for them. The current landowners have not proposed an open pit mine or any other mining method. The owners have asked for the state to develop mining rules in order to determine what type of mine, if feasible, will meet state regulatory standards. In addition, by assailing the ethics and professionalism of state professionals, the NRCM diminishes any claim of objectivity to their report.

The NRCM has consistently demonstrated little interest in available factual information and unwillingness to find workable solutions to correct a past dismal mining legacy. Its aim appears to be to eliminate all exploration and metal mining from the state.

They are apparently happy, however, to use the metals mined from other states and underdeveloped countries. One only needs to look at the horrible photos from the Congo in the latest National Geographic magazine to see where our metals presently come from.

The rapid evolution and emergence of 21st-century telecommunications, alternative energy, transportation and nanotechnology have increased the per capita demand for mineral resources at an exponential rate. It is now time for “developed nations” to be responsible by adopting and implementing current modern mining and environmental technologies, rather than by relying on “underdeveloped” countries to satisfy our increasing mineral appetites. The Maine Legislature and Department of Environmental Protection and responsible environmental organizations have a threshold opportunity to assume a national leadership role by crafting a credible modern model for mineral-mining legislation and rules that factually address both economic and environmental mineral issues for the state of Maine. … recall our state motto “I lead.” Also, recall the environmental mantra to “Think globally while acting locally.”

— Special to the Press Herald

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