Monday, June 30, 2014

Home Rule Prevails! Towns Allowed to Ban Fracking

Towns allowed to Ban Fracking
Local governments in New York have the authority to zone out gas drilling and other forms of heavy industry, the state's highest court decided today in a 5-2 ruling that grew out of challenges brought against fracking bans enacted by the towns of Middlefield and Dryden.

The Court of Appeals signaled in the majority decision that it was not focused on the merits of the bans but on the legal authority of the towns to enact keep out drilling - a move the industry claimed superceded their authority.

  "The towns both studied the issue and acted within their home rule powers in determining that gas drilling would permanently alter and adversely affect the deliberately-cultivated, small-town character of their communities," according to the majority ruling

"This is a victory for both home rule and our towns," Middlefield Town Supervisor David Bliss told The Daily Star.

Middlefield's ban, enacted in 2011, was challenged by Cooperstown Holstein Corp. The company is owned by Middlefield dairy farmer Jennifer Huntington. She had leased her farm land to a gas company she said was only interested in placing a conventional gas well on her land, not an operation involving the more controversial process known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing for natural gas trapped deep within the earth under layers of shale.

Dryden's ban was challenged by Norse Energy, a company based in Norway.

More than 170 towns, cities and villages in New York have enacted either moratoriums or bans on drilling since Middlefield and Dryden became among the first in the state to keep out drilling.

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