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December 04, 2016
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Environmental split over Proposition Five; The Adirondack Land Swap

Wollastonite is a mineral used in the production of ceramics, brakes, clutches, paint and plastics among other things, and is the reason that Proposition Five exists on the ballot in New York State for the November election.
Contributed photo

Charles Morrison, a spokesman for the chapter’s Adirondack Committee said: “The state legislators who voted for this proposal in the closing days of the legislative session have not been given the full facts. For example, proponents of this deal have kept quiet that NYCO has been planning for the closure of the 1970s Lewis Mine all along, and the company opened a second mine at Oak Hill in the late 1990s, two miles away from the Lewis mine, to replace it. In 2006, NYCO submitted a 25-year plan to state agencies to phase out its Lewis mine and transition to full operations at Oak Hill by 2016 where the ore is as good, or better, than at Lewis. There is no economic emergency here that requires the voters to amend the constitution.”

The supporters of the proposition countered that with a press release of their own, which said that information is false. The release said, “NYCO owns another site at Oak Hill that contains wollastonite, but the mineral is buried much more deeply in the ground, making it far more costly to remove. Operating there today would pose serious competitive challenges to NYCO as the company fights to compete in the global wollastonite market. Continuing to operate in Lewis, on a site that is just 50 feet from existing mine, would allow NYCO to stay competitive because the wollastonite is closer to the surface and because the company already has its infrastructure and equipment in place at that location.”

The advocacy group called Protect the Adirondacks opposes Proposition Five because it sets a bad precedent. A post on its website says, “The proposed NYCO proposal breaks with historic precedent because it would be the first Forest Preserve Constitutional Amendment solely to be undertaken for private commercial gain rather than for a public municipal purpose.”