Vaughn Hardacker here: I am currently working on a new novel that deals with the Bald Mountain mine issue. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Bald Mountain (located in T12 R8, D-3 on map63 of DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazeteer) in close proximity to the Fish River, which feeds into the Fish River chain of lakes (Fish Lake, Portage Lake, St. Froid Lake, Eagle Lake, Square Lake, Cross Lake, Mud Lake, and Long Lake) before feeding into the Saint John River in Fort Kent. A company that was once a small New Brunswick, Canada company has grown into a giant mega-corporation owning the timber and mining rights to over 500,000 acres of land in northern Maine. The geologist who determined that Bald Mountain is a site with deposits of copper, zinc, gold, and silver. However he also stated due to the massive quantities of iron sulfide (which creates sulfuric acid when exposed to air and water) and arsenic mining the site was too
risky from an environmental perspective. To get to the point, the potential for Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is so high that the mine could be a major environmental disaster waiting to happen. Currently, Maine has the strictest mining laws in the United States and there is a major push in Augusta to ease them so that the mine can go forward.
This is an example of a local issue screaming to become a plot. Add the discovery of the body of a female state senator who is the key person holding the line against the Maine Department of Environmental Protection easing the mining regulations in the trunk of her car on the American Reality Road in the North Maine Woods and we are off and running (I’m currently approaching the 45,000 word mark).
Each and every one of us writers has been asked: “Where do you get your ideas?” I always respond the local and national news as well as controversial issues happening right in my back yard. So if you are like me and once you finish a book you spend time trying to come up with a new idea, talk to people in your neighborhood and learn what are the local issues that have them hot and bothered.
By the way, two mining companies have already studied Bald Mountain and both came to the conclusion that the potential for AMD getting into the ground water and our lakes and streams is far too great and the cost of clean up could be greater than the profit gained. Several similar mines in Canada and the U. S. have turned into disasters and the estimate of the time until the sulfurous containing minerals are exhausted and the water is clean again could be hundreds or even thousands of years. (There is currently an AMD clean up project at the Iron Mountain mine near Redding, California that has cost $200,000,000 to date and scientists estimate that it will continue to produce AMD for 2,500 to 3,000 years.) They walked away from the project. What research I’ve done into the controversy has me concerned that factions within our state government will allow the mine to go forward. I for one have written to my local representatives in Augusta but have become aware that at least one of them has a personal interest in making sure that the project moves forward? I’ve always said that we have the best government that money can buy.