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BREAKING: Mining reform bill passes Maine House
BREAKING: Mining reform bill passes Maine House
A bill to revamp Maine's mineral mining law unanimously passed the House of Representatives on Thursday 126 to 14 with 11 legislators absent. The Maine Senate had voted unanimously, with one Senator absent, in favor of the bill on May 9.

LD 820, "An Act to Protect Maine's Clean Water and Taxpayers from Mining Pollution," was sponsored by Senator Brownie Carson, former executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM).

According to NRCM, the bill would provide some of the strongest protections against metallic mineral mining pollution in the world.

NRCM says it will ban:
• Tailings impoundments, which are the ponds of toxic slurry that result from processing huge quantities of ore. Tailings impoundments can cause lethal disasters when their dams fail, which happens frequently in the mining industry.
• Large-scale open-pit mines, which generate about 10 times more waste as underground mines.
• Mining in, on, or under public lands, including state parks, wildlife management areas, and public reserved lands.
• Mining in, on, or under great ponds (lakes).
• Mining in, on, or under coastal waters and coastal wetlands (this will prevent the type of mining used at the failed Callahan mine in Brooksville).
• Mining in, on, or under rivers that the Legislature has classified as “outstanding.”
• Mining under high-value freshwater wetlands.
• Removal, storage, or processing of ore in areas vulnerable to flooding.

LD 820 would also require mining applicants to pay enough money up front to cover a worst-case mining disaster.

Some legislators apparently voted no on the bill because they believe it goes too far. Others opposed it because it does not go far enough to prevent water contamination. Grassroots activists have called for a complete ban on metal mining in Maine. However, LD 160, which would prohibit mining of major ore deposits, was defeated in the House 98 to 42 with 11 absent.

Before the votes, Gov. Paul LePage reportedly fumed to Republican lawmakers in a private session that he would veto the mining ban if it passed and he might veto the compromise bill too.

Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2017 (Archive on Thursday, June 8, 2017)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre   Contributed by Jym St. Pierre
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