The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released a draft Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) and work plan that details how it proposes to enact the Constitutional Amendment that narrowly passed last November that authorized “mineral exploration” and possible sale of Forest Preserve lands. The Constitutional Amendment was for 200 acres of Forest Preserve lands, known as Lewis Lot 8, on the eastern edge of the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area.
A public comment periods run until May 30th. Public comments can be submitted here or sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Constitutional Amendment authorized a two-step process whereby NYCO first undertakes a “mineral exploration” phase. This involves road building and 22 test drilling sites. If NYCO determines that the tests show a high level of wollastonite, the ore it mines, then the Amendment authorizes that the state can sell up to 200 acres to NYCO based on a price approved by the Legislature.
The draft TRP details a formal work plan for how the drilling, road building, tree cutting, and use of chemicals and motor vehicles for mineral exploration will be undertaken and managed. The TRP authorizes the cutting of up to 1,254 trees.
The DEC has determined that its best course of action is to issue a TRP for the first step of the process that details the work plan for how NYCO Minerals, Inc. will conduct mineral exploration. This process by the DEC parallels an amendment of Jay Mountain Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan (UMP) by the APA.
The two maps below detail the location of the Forest Preserve lands in question and show the locations of the 22 proposed drilling sites.
The DEC has completed a draft Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) for NYCO Minerals Inc. (NYCO) “to conduct exploratory drilling for minerals on Lot 8 in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area, Town of Lewis, Essex County.” The DEC maintains that “this TRP is authorized by a Constitutional Amendment to Article 14 approved by the voters on November 5, 2013 to allow NYCO to engage in mineral sampling on Lot 8. The TRP sets terms and conditions for mineral exploration activities and site mitigation and restoration.”
Click here for the work plan and other supporting materials for the draft TRP.
This course of action by the DEC raises a number of issues.
Below, please find talking points for letters to the DEC:
1. The DEC has proposed a draft Temporary Revocable Permit (TRP) that details a formal work plan for how the drilling, road building, tree cutting, and use of chemicals and motor vehicles for mineral exploration will be undertaken and managed. The work plan fails to adequately analyze existing biological conditions of Lot 8. Tell the DEC that the DEC TRP and work plan are incomplete and must include better analysis of biological conditions and impacts.
2. The APA contends that it can issue a TRP for activities on the Forest Preserve, such as road building, drilling, extensive tree cutting, use of chemicals, operation of motor vehicles, and drilling, among other things, without complying with the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) or the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). PROTECT’s legal analysis does not find that the SLMP or SEQRA are voided by a Constitutional Amendment. Tell the DEC that the Constitutional Amendment does not nullify the State Land Master Plan Wilderness Area management guidelines or SEQRA.
3. In order to undertake activities such as road building, tree cutting, drilling, use of motor vehicles, and use of chemicals in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area, the APA must first amend the State Land Master Plan for lands exempted from “forever wild” Constitutional protections and requirements of the SLMP. Tell the APA that it cannot authorize these activities in the UMP Amendment unless it first revises the State Land Master Plan.
4. DEC has provided inaccurate information, which denies old growth forest conditions on Lot 8, and grossly under counts the number of vernal pools and intermittent streams. Tell the DEC that it must first gather accurate field data on the Lot 8 ecosystem before it can proceed.
5. The DEC and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the management of state lands. The MOU details a process and schedule for UMP Amendments. The APA and DEC argue that Constitutional Amendments somehow void existing APA-DEC policies. Tell DEC that they must obey the APA-DEC process and timetables for UMP Amendments detailed in the APA-DEC MOU.
6. The DEC contends that the Constitutional Amendment implicitly exempts all mineral exploration activities on Lewis Lot 8 in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area. PROTECT believes that a series of existing state laws must be obeyed, including the NYS Wetlands Act, the State Land Master Plan, and Mine Lands Reclamation Act. Tell the DEC that it must obey all state laws.
7. There is time to do this right because, for its part, NYCO has embarked upon a massive expansion of its Lewis Mine. At the same time that the DEC and APA are taking public comments on a plan to allow NYCO to undertake “mineral sampling” in the Forest Preserve west of its Lewis Mine, the APA and DEC are reviewing a new permit application (2013-138) by NYCO to expand its mining operation in another direction. NYCO seeks to expand its mining operations from 90 acres to 132 acres, the largest single increase ever sought since NYCO has been regulated by the APA. NYCO seeks a 46% expansion of its 90-acre open pit mine in a southeast direction. Tell the DEC that it should slow down this decision and gather the necessary information and required ecological assessments.
NYCO seeks authority to begin this work as soon as possible. The DEC plans to review public comments and finalize a TRP in June.
Submit public comments by May 30th:
P.O. Box 296
Ray Brook, NY 12977
Additional Background Materials
Click here for more background information on the APA-DEC plans to implement the NYCO Amendment. Click here for more information on the controversial NYCO Constitutional Amendment from November 2013.
See a thorough and comprehensive letter submitted for PROTECT and a coalition of groups by Earthjustice that details the many problems with how the APA and DEC seek to implement this Constitutional Amendment.