Bill Memo: Protections from Salt Mining

1-Tree: Beneficial rating


This bill amends the environmental conservation law and public lands law to require permits for salt mining beneath a lake to be subject to environmental quality review procedures.


This bill requires that long-operating salt mines in New York State undergo an environmental review in the event of a permit renewal or mine sale, and directs the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct a study of salt mines operating beneath lakes in the state. This bill will provide critical information about whether the Cargill Salt Mine operating beneath Cayuga Lake is causing serious environmental damage and potentially harming the drinking water of over 100,000 people.

In August 2023, Cargill, Inc. began the process of selling the Cayuga Salt Mine it has operated for more than 50 years beneath Cayuga Lake on land leased from New York State. For decades, however, DEC has not required Cargill to cooperate with an Environmental Impact Statement process. Due to this lack of oversight, threats to water quality from the mine’s operations may be going undetected.

Cayuga Lake is already saltier than nearly all other Finger Lakes. Salination poses a serious threat to water bodies, especially drinking water sources. Desalination of drinking water is a costly and energy-intensive process, requiring specialized treatment technology to be installed at a water treatment plant. Desalination of source water is extremely difficult to reverse, and can lead to permanent changes in lake ecosystems.

This bill will ensure that comprehensive data is collected about Cargill Salt Mine’s operations so that action to protect water quality can be taken if problems are identified. New Yorkers living in the area have a right to know how salt mining is impacting Cayuga Lake.

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Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Beneficial

Memo #: 55