WABI-TV Channel 5 and 13 Report on BEP and Old Town Boiler, aired p.m. 4/3 and a.m. 4/4, 2006.

See also transcript from LD141 Committee Workshop showing that this bill is on rush to "save the Old Town mill" and that the boiler has a "serious" problem with carbon monoxide even with clean fuel (due to engineering mistakes that it will cost $2 million to fix), and was shut down by the Air Board even before the mill announced closure.

Announcer: Some lawmakers are concerned that the biomass boiler at the Georgia-Pacific mill in Old Town may not be safe to use. They are skeptical of the decision by the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee last week. That Committee voted to ignore the concerns of the Board of Environmental Protection and accept new rules on the burning of construction waste in boilers like the one in Old Town.

Reporter: Supporters of the new rules claim that they are some of the toughest guidelines in the nation when it comes to regulating the use of construction waste in Maine's biomass boilers. Opponents claim that the rules would allow significant amounts of plastics and other waste to be burned, thereby releasing dangerous toxins into the environment.

Last month, the Board of Environmental Protection voted to take a closer look at the rules. That's when the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee voted to bypass the Board and to accept the rules as is. Opponents were outraged.

Rep. Joanne Twomey: The Board of Environmental Protection has the experitise, they're the ones who have heard all of the testimony. They're the ones who can ask those questions. We show up in a Committee hearing, and we're just supposed to vote for this, without, you know, just “Accept these rules.” And I think there is something terribly wrong when we do our work this way.

Reporter: Senator John Martin was one of the lawmakers who voted to override the BEP. He says the Legislature has waited for months to get rules on the burning of construction and demolition debris, and when the Board made decisions that would delay those rules by several more months, he said it was time for the Legislature to act.

Sen. John Martin: We've had some bureaucrats who would love to be able to be legislators, and to do what they want to do. That's not their job. The job of departments is to carry out what the Legislature tells them to carry out. And if they don't like it, they should recommend to the Governor and the Legislature to change it, and then other people can have an input. Not simply have non-elected officials attempting to do what they want to do.

Reporter: Meanwhile, Republican Senator Debra Plowman of Hampden says she has learned that the boiler at the mill in Old Town can't run economically without cheap fuel like construction waste. The new rules would allow a cheap fuel source, which tells her that the rules are being rammed through to help find a buyer for the mill. She says that's why the BEP wanted a closer look.

Reporter: It's a debate that could come to a head in the full legislature sometime this week.