Lifton and Assembly En Con Chair Pen Joint Letter to DEC on Mining Under Lake

Assemblymembers call for moratorium on new permits and approvals
July 20, 2017

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WFP-125AD, Tompkins/Cortland) today announced that she has written and sent a joint letter with Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Conservation, to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos regarding the Cargill Cayuga Salt Mine in Lansing, NY. Assemblywoman Lifton and Chairman Englebright recently convened a meeting with high-level Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials regarding concerns that expanded salt mining under Cayuga Lake could pose potentially catastrophic risks to the lake in the event of a mine failure. In the letter, Lifton and Englebright call for the DEC to prohibit future mining activites under Cayuga Lake and, as an alternative, to focus on mining under the adjoining dry land instead.

“Anyone who wants to understand the catastrophic consequences of a mine collapse should study what happened when the Retsof mine collapsed in Livingston County in 1994,” said Lifton. “It caused sink holes and major property damage. There are alarming parallels between the Retsof mine and what Cargill is proposing to do under Cayuga Lake. If the roof of the mine collapsed under Cayuga Lake, it could contaminate drinking water for thousands of people and damage a priceless public resource. Cargill should shift to focusing on mining under dry land instead; not only would it preserve jobs, but it would prevent a potentially catastrophic impact to an environmental jewel of our region.”

Assemblyman Englebright, who is a geology professor at SUNY Stoneybrook, stated: “I and the Assembly Majority think it is critical that we live by the Precautionary Principle in relation to the environment. Major environmental disasters are often impossible to fix after the fact, so our goal is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Cayuga Lake is an irreplaceable resource, both environmentally and economically, so Assemblywoman Lifton and I are joining to press the DEC to make sure this key resource is fully protected.”