Defending Water for Life in Maine
Testimony in opposition to LD 146: Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 200: Metallic Mineral Exploration, Advanced Exploration and Mining, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Environmental Protection
Dear Senator Saviello, Representative Welsh, and fellow members of the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources,
My name is Chris Buchanan and I’m a resident of Belgrade. Today I’m representing Defending Water for Life in Maine. We work to protect fresh water as a basic right for all people and for nature.
Defending Water for Life opposes LD 146 out of concern for Maine’s groundwater. These mining rules don’t provide adequate protection for the water, one of Maine’s most valuable public assets. If the goals of this Committee are to increase opportunities for rural Mainers, and reduce outmigration of young people, then I urge you to care about the water that they drink.
We would like to remind the members of this Committee that water sustains all life on this planet. When it is polluted, people and all living things suffer. Remediation is costly and sometimes impossible. It doesn’t take a microscope to see remnants of old polluters and the consequences of our dependence on huge foreign employers across Maine in our record high cancer rates and unstable regional economies. These are lessons that we must learn from, not continue to repeat.
Maine is blessed to have some of the cleanest and most abundant fresh water in North America, and the World. Rapidly, potable water sources are being polluted and diminished. Meanwhile, rising global population, consumer-oriented economics, extreme extraction practices like hydro-fracturing (fracking), water mining for privatization, and chemical-based agriculture exacerbate the demand for fresh water. In addition, 97% of scientists who have studied climate change have concluded that it is real and is caused by humans. Climate scientists predict mass desertification of much of the globe within my lifetime. The long-range outlook is already bleak for future generations. This is precisely the wrong time to be changing the mining rules, and forfeiting the integrity of our rural communities and Public Lands. We cannot afford to compromise our water.
No amount of jobs will matter if people are getting sick, or if generations of families must move away from a place because they can’t drink the water. In the case of the tailing ponds allowed by these mining rules, that could be forever. The argument that providing jobs will bring young people back to Maine and keep them close to home is valid, but its only part of the equation. A person who lives amongst contamination will not want to stay there, let alone choose to raise a family there. It will be people who can’t afford to move or buy water that experience the worst hardship, perpetuating class conflict. Those of you concerned about welfare, take notice. You will be one of several parties responsible for causing the blight around future mining communities after the boom has ended.
These mining rules, if approved, create unnecessary risks for every community within the watershed of a mining site, and compromise Maine’s future water security, and by default, food security. All Mainers have a right to clean water. Please vote to oppose LD 146.
Maine Coordinator, Defending Water for Life