Environmentalists say new mining regulations proposal still doesn't cut it

Coal mining regulations being discussed.

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's Board of Environmental Protection held a public hearing Thursday to discuss a new mining regulations proposal for the state -- but environmentalists still think it's not strong enough.

The conversation is one the two groups have had many times over the past few years. It started back in 2013 after J-D Irving Limited wanted to mine on land it owns on Bald Mountain in Aroostook county. Supporters of the proposed set of regulations feel the industry could bring the state hundreds of jobs in areas that need them most. The board feels the new proposal covers all points of concern that have been expressed. "I would argue that the rule changes we are proposing are more protective of the environment than our current situation," DEP board member Melanie Loyzim said.
 
However, opponents like the Natural Resources Council of Maine say the rules are too lax and it gives companies decades to clean up polluted sites. They also feel that even though the companies would be required to pay for that clean-up, money can't fix the damage pollution would bring. "Out of compliance violations in mining can be so catastrophic that there is no company, no industry that can pay for it," Representative Ralph Chapman said.
 
If the proposal gets approved by the board it would go before legislature January of 2017.

Copyright 2016 WLBZ


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