Press-Republican

Environment

April 22, 2014

DEC seeks public comment on NYCO test mining

RAY BROOK — Statewide approval that allows NYCO Minerals to test mine on state land requires changes to Adirondack Park regulations.

Last November, voters in New York approved a measure granting NYCO permission to test for wollastonite on Lot 8, a 200-acre parcel of state land beside the company’s existing mine in the Town of Lewis.

If enough is found, NYCO will swap 1,500 private acres for the 200-acre parcel of state land in Jay Mountain Wilderness Area.

Called Proposition 5, the measure was approved 1,276,595 to 1,122,055 votes, a margin of 53.22 to 46.78 percent.

The process to amend the State Constitution requires a Temporary Revocable Permit for mining from the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

And that means DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency have to allow changes to the existing Jay Mountain Wilderness Unit Management Plan.

‘MUST COMPLY’

Both procedures were put in motion this month. And both are in the midst of a public-comment session.

A group of Adirondack preservationists has raised questions through attorneys at Earthjustice about the constitutional amendment and its implications for land protections in the Adirondack Park.

“Lot 8 is located within the Jay Mountain Wilderness, and even the DEC admits that the site remains State Forest Preserve land during step one,” Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg said in a letter questioning the process.

“The constitutional amendment means that Lot 8 does not have to be kept ‘forever wild,’ but before the state can allow drilling, it must comply with statutes and regulations that remain fully in force.”

THREE-PHASE PROCESS

A draft version of the Temporary Revocable Permit outlines a three-phase test-drilling process.

NYCO Minerals will not proceed with testing if any phase does not prove positive for substantive amounts of wollastonite.

To set terms for the permit, DEC conducted a forest inventory on Lot 8, according to DEC Region 5 Natural Resource Manager Thomas Martin, who recently presented permit specifics to APA commissioners.

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