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Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013: Bald Mountain, veterans

Department deadline

The proposed Irving open-pit mine at Aroostook County’s Bald Mountain could pollute the groundwater of the St. John and Aroostook watersheds for hundreds of years.

The Bald Mountain mine’s toxic “tailings pond,” a dump of long-lived amounts of sulfuric acid and arsenic could get into the watershed’s groundwater.

“Once acid drainage starts, it’s virtually impossible to stop,” according to David Chambers, president of the Montana-based Center for Science in the Public Participation “It’s going to move. This is especially true in mountainous areas.”

Maine geologist John S. Cummings, who discovered Bald Mountain’s copper deposits in 1977, estimated the amount of toxic debris in the Bald Mountain tailings pond would be 30 million tons.

Irving claimed it would create 700 direct and indirect jobs at Bald Mountain. Previously, mining companies opted out because of the likeliness and expense of groundwater pollution. One of these companies, Boliden, estimated 80-130 jobs. The other company, Black Hawk, estimated 75 jobs. Irving has declined to itemize its job estimate. Similar mining jobs last about 5 years.

Trading our groundwater, health and the biodiversity of our watersheds for the un-itemized jobs is likely to cost us big money to try to clean-up.

Please help save our groundwater and wilderness environment. Email the Department of Environmental Protection before the Dec. 23 deadline.

Ask them to strengthen, not weaken, our mining laws to protect us from mining pollution.

Ask them to require a third party to verify the adequate amount and availability of the clean-up funds as a precaution of the mining company going bankrupt.

And contact your state representatives, and ask them to oppose loosening the existing mining regulations.

Carol McKnight

Presque Isle

Veterans’ benefits

Tis the season to be joyful! Not so for hundreds of thousands of military veterans. The fiscal budget recently passed by Congress contains within its structure a pay reduction clause for all retired military veterans. It will automatically institute pay reductions for the promised earned benefits to veterans who have served many years of honorable service to our country.

This action breaks the established trust that all military service personnel had when they signed up to serve our country. A veteran would expect our elected representatives to look for ways to reduce the fiscal budget falls by establishing a new (future) retirement system for those joining the military and not pursue a reduction of financial benefits to thousands of veterans who were guaranteed a contract of earned benefits.

This assistance was promised to veterans when they joined the military as recognition of one devoting their life in the defense of our country.

Regardless of the holiday season, there is no good time to renege on promised benefits as there are thousands of military families already struggling in today’s world. Many military families already rely on outside assistance such as food stamps, “toys for tots,” and other charities. Yet they are willing to voluntarily sign on the dotted line and commit many years of service for our nation.

Any reduction in pay or benefits for all military personnel is absolutely outrageous and unconscionable. Remember how your elected representatives voted on the budget when you exercise your precious right to vote in future elections.

Thomas W. Kelly III, Captain U.S. Navy (Ret.)


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