Mining in the Adirondacks: A Stakeholder Analysis
Stakeholder Analysis of NY Constitution Amendment Favoring Adirondack Mining by NYCO Minerals
When a mining company decides it wants to gain state-reserved land for profit-making purposes, it is important to analyze what exactly is at stake. The consequences of such mining could seem beneficial to some, but are they as beneficial on a larger, more environmental context? NYCO Minerals acquisition of 200 acres of state land presented an opportunity to create jobs in the area, but has in turn made the land subject to environmental destruction. Through a stakeholder’s analysis, I will examine why Protect the Adirondacks was not successful in their attempt to stop NYCO Minerals from attaining protected land.
For this case, it is important to know the history behind New York State’s protected lands. Article XIV, Section I of the New York State Constitution states the following: “The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed.” Since its implementation in 1895, this section of the constitution has gone under various changes, with amendments made allowing private companies to use the protected lands defined in this section. Just recently in 2013, an amendment was passed allowing NYCO Minerals, a wollastonite mining company, to acquire 200 acres of forest preserve land in Essex County. Backlash was quickly received, specifically by Protect the Adirondacks, an organization that challenged the amendment not only on environmental terms but also on alleged legislative violations. (S. Craig, 2016).
Under the amendment, NYCO Minerals has been granted access to 200 acres of state land, under the expectation that it eventually returns all of the land granted to them back to the state, as well as giving addition Adirondack land that they currently own (S. Craig, 2015). NYCO Minerals alongside some environmental officials “argued that the proposal would be good for the state and save jobs in the North Country region,” with opposing forces claiming that the mining that would be done, open-pit mining, is considered “one of the most environmentally destructive forms of natural resource exploitation” (S. Craig, 2015). Despite all efforts to stop the amendment from passing, NYCO Minerals had the Department of Environmental Conservation on their side, which helped them convince lawmakers, legislators, and environmental groups to support the bill. The bill passed, but Protect the Adirondacks continued to question the amendment’s legitimacy. Just recently, when Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, asked the attorney general and the inspector general to further investigate the amendment, both requests were denied (S. Craig, 2016).
When analyzing this case, it is extremely important to look at the stakeholders present, and analyze the ways in which their power, attitude, proximity, and interest level affected the success of the bills passing. One of the biggest stakeholders in this case, NYCO Minerals, seems to have all of these working in their favor. They are extremely influential in the lawmaking process and in advocating their case, their support is at the highest point because they would benefit the most, they are close to the area in which they want to attain, and are extremely interested in the area. Another powerful stakeholder in this case is the Department of the Environmental Conservation, due to their ability to influence other legislators and companies to support the amendment, even though they are not necessarily in proximity to the area. The community might not seem as a very influential group in this analysis, but those interested in creating more jobs will be supportive of the bill. When it comes to Protect the Adirondacks, they are not necessarily influential in a direct sense, but they do have the potential to influence voters. Since they are not in support of the bill, they are in the minority, not giving them much advantage in getting their way. Ultimately, the citizens (voters) have the last say, making a lot of power fall into their hands even though they might not know it. They don’t necessarily have to be interested in the context of the bill, but their vote is enough to make them an influential stakeholder in the case.
One of the biggest reasons why this amendment was able to pass was the ability and power of NYCO Minerals and the Department of Environmental Conservation to get people on the supporting side. As a result, NYCO Minerals now has the potential to environmentally destroy the area which was supposed to be preserved. Although Protect the Adirondacks tried their best to prevent this from happening and has continued to try investigate into the passing of the amendment, they did not have enough power to get what they wanted.
Craig, Susannah. 2015. “Documents Reveal New York State Agency’s Role in Adirondacks Mining Proposal” August 2. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/03/nyregion/documents-reveal-new-york- state-agencys-role-in-adirondacks-mining-proposal.html (February 3, 2016).
Craig, Susannah. 2016. “2 Offices Won’t Investigate New York Constitutional Amendment on Adirondack Mining”. January 25. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/26/nyregion/2-offices-wont-investigate-new-york-constitutional-amendment-on-adirondack-mining.html?ref=earth&_r=0 (February 3, 2016).