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Tompkins legislature advocates for environmental review of Cayuga Lake salt mine

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

The Tompkins County Legislature passed a resolution on November 8th with an 11-3 vote calling for increased scrutiny over Cargill’s salt mining activities in Cayuga Lake.

The resolution requests Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct a comprehensive, independent environmental review of the mine’s impact on the region and to secure an environmental bond for Cargill’s operations.

Environmental concerns have been escalating due to the mining’s potential impact on the local ecosystem and economy, with Cayuga Lake serving as a crucial resource for drinking water, recreation, and industry. Stephanie Redmond of CLEAN (Cayuga Lake Environmental Action Now) underscored the urgency for Governor Hochul to ensure a thorough environmental review before any sale of the mine, emphasizing the risks to the area’s significant economic engine and drinking water source. Public commentary from experts like Dr. Joe Kreitinger, an ecological and human health risk assessor, has criticized the lack of transparency and rigorous analysis needed to evaluate the mine’s large-scale environmental impact.

The legislature’s action aligns with recent legislative efforts at the state level to safeguard Cayuga Lake. A new bill introduced in the NYS Legislature aims to enhance environmental protections, mandating an environmental impact statement and updated reclamation plan for any future permit renewals or mine transfers. This push for increased oversight follows a virtual press conference and a petition signed by nearly 2,000 people, all calling on the state government to prevent the sale of Cargill’s mine without adequate public and environmental review. CLEAN, the advocacy group spearheading the initiative, has been mobilizing resources to ensure the DEC takes action to protect Cayuga Lake from the longstanding and potential future impacts of salt mining.