Maine mining bill under review by state lawmakers

AUGUSTA, Me.- Maine Republicans and Democrats are rallying behind a bill they say would create some of the nation's toughest mining regulations.

The Democratic-led House voted 126-14 Thursday to support the bill, which received unanimous support from the Republican-controlled Senate.

Supporters say Maine's mining laws and regulations don't match, and warn that inscrutable mining companies could exploit the situation to the detriment of the state's environment and tourism industry.

Democratic Rep. Ralph Tucker said that the bill bans open-pit mining and mining on or below public and protected lands.

The bill heads to the Senate for a final vote.

Opponents include top House Republicans such as Ken Fredette and Ellie Espling.

Democratic Rep. Ralph Chapman choked up as he said Maine lacks mining expertise needed to protect the environment.