ELIZABETHTOWN — Court motions here have stopped NYCO Minerals from starting test mining on Lot 8 in Lewis on Thursday.
Supreme Court Justice Thomas Buchanan issued a temporary restraining order Monday, pending review of a lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups charging that permits for mineral exploration on state land were granted without due environmental review process.
The Article 78 lawsuit was filed Monday morning in Essex County Supreme Court, challenging policies adopted by the State Department of Environmental Conservation, Adirondack Park Agency and NYCO Minerals.
COURT DATE SET
Exploration, tree cutting and core sampling was set to begin July 17 on an eastern slice of a 200-acre parcel of Jay Mountain Wilderness.
Test-mining operations were approved by voters in New York last November as part of Proposition 5.
Concerns at issue are temporary revocable permits and amendments to the State Land Master Plan, made in June following Proposition 5’s approval.
Dan Plumley is a partner at Adirondack Wild, one of the groups that filed suit.
“We got the restraining order,” he said after leaving court Monday. “The restraining order will prohibit NYCO from implementing the temporary revocable permit (TRP) and doing sampling until at least Aug. 22. That’s when we go back to court.
“We will be back in court to address the Article 78 proceeding, the action we filed against APA and DEC for approving the Unit Management Plan amendment and the TRP to allow mineral sampling on existing State Forest Preserve lands designated as Wilderness.”
Discussion in court Monday found a restraining order was needed because work was set to begin as early as Thursday, Plumley said.
“We’re heartened by the fact that we have the restraining order. We’re glad that we’ll be able to have our case heard.”
APA and DEC spent much of the past seven months detailing the excavation permit, which was set to unfold in three phases. Strict protocols outline how and where NYCO would test for wollastonite on state land beside its existing mines in Lewis.