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Mining reform bill unanimously passes Maine Senate
Mining reform bill unanimously passes Maine Senate

A bill to revamp Maine's mineral mining law unanimously passed the state senate today, with one Senator absent.

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 an alert from NRCM, if passed as amended, 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.

However, some grassroots activists believe the bill would reduce, not enhance, environmental protections. They have called for LD 820 to be stopped.

The bill must still go through several more votes in the Maine House and Senate, but the Maine Senate vote on Tuesday was by roll call, suggesting that legislators of all partisan persuasions want to be explicitly on record in support of the revised mining statute.

Posted on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 (Archive on Tuesday, May 30, 2017)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre   Contributed by Jym St. Pierre

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