Court Allows Town to Ban Fracking: Sets Precedent

A New York town won an important case on whether towns will be able to ban fracking without being challenged by the industry.

The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right of the Town of Dryden to adopt zoning laws that prohibit natural gas drilling within its borders.

The judge ruled that town zoning ordinances are not preempted by NY’s Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law in Anschutz Exploration Corporation v. the Town of Dryden and the Town of Dryden Town Board.

Natural gas driller Anschutz Exploration Corp. sued the town to overturn its ordinance, which bans oil and gas exploration.

"This is an important vindication of local democracy – with national ramifications – at a time when it is being trampled in our country by powerful interests like the gas and oil industry," says Adrian Kuzminski of Sustainable Otsego.

About 20 other towns in New York have adopted ordinances to ban natural gas drilling.

The industry will appeal the ruling, of course, saying that other judges may rule differently.

"This decision if vitally important because it ruled against the Denver-based company Anschutz, a conglomerate focused on natural gas exploration or production projects in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming," says Denise Katzman of EcoEdifier.

"This is huge victory for the Town of Dryden. In an impressive and well reasoned opinion, Judge Rumsey resolved all claims in favor of the Town of Dryden except one. The provision in the Dryden law that invalidated any permit issued in violation of the Town law was stricken and severed.

Significantly, the Court found that even a ‘total ban’ on extraction is permissible, because there is no express legislative intent to preempt local laws or ordinances in the Oil and Gas Law. This will go a long way to reassure towns and local governments that properly enacted land use and zoning laws remain enforceable
against industry claims that they were immune from their application," says Nicole Dillingham from Otsego 2000.

In 2010, New York placed a moratorium on fracking, which is currently under environmental review.

While New York recognizes "home rule," which allows towns to adopt laws to protect their "physical and visual environment"and the "safety, health, and well-being" of residents, other states don’t, says Eric Waeckerlin, an environment and energy attorney with Kelley Drye & Warren LLP told Bloomberg.

A court in West Virginia, for example, ruled in favor of drillers over towns.

In Related News

After two weeks and more than 30,000 signatures of support, Josh
Fox, who the GOP had arrested for trying to film a public hearing on fracking,
 has been released with all charges dropped.

Fox produced the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland,
which exposed the horrors of fracking. He’s working on a
follow-up documentary on the subject, Gasland 2.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) has introduced the FRAC Act, which requires natural gas companies to not only disclose the chemicals they’re drilling with, and even more importantly, closes the loophole that excludes the industry from regulations in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

In only six years, 450,000 fracking wells have been drilled in 31
states and that’s only the beginning. The industry has plans for tens of thousands more wells where billions of gallons of water mixed with industrial poisons will be pumped underground.

Believe it or not, under current law, the industry doesn’t have to prove fracking is safe – citizens and government have to prove it’s NOT safe.

The FRAC Act is stuck in committee in the GOP-dominated House -grassroots pressure is necessary to force action.

Last week, the US Department of Interior said it will propose fracking standards for public lands soon and gave some insight into what those rules will cover. Natural gas drillers will not only have to disclose the chemicals they use, but they will also have to inspect their wells after fracking and certify that drinking water
supplies are safe. They will also have to prove the well isn’t leaking.

Doctors have come out against fracking, it’s been banned in New
Jersey, and other states are considering banning it.
It’s been shown to cause earthquakes and to lead to increase methane emissions. The EPA confirmed that it pollutes drinking water. The EPA has proposed the first-ever standards to reduce air pollution caused by fracking.

A report, "Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal
Health," shows that fracking is killing domestic animals like horses, cattle, goats, sheep.

Give the FRAC Act a boost and sign on as a citizen co-sponsor. Your voice can add pressure to this important bill:

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Comments on “Court Allows Town to Ban Fracking: Sets Precedent”

  1. Johanna

    Fracking’s safety and efcvetifeness is all about the quality of the operator and the exercise of power by the state. Interview the Shell Oil experts who are confident fracking can be safe and effective. Interview the Sierra Club of Texas to find out how the state’s environmental “protection” agency is unlikely to impose on all operators the higher standards of fracking that dependable companies like Shell Oil espouses. Interview the Governor of Texas and ask him why he protects Wyoming and Montana coal interests to supply dirty Texas coal fired electric plants instead of creating clean air and low cost energy and most importantly lasting jobs, jobs, jobs, for Texas, by turning to a domestic natural gas energy policy. These are the issues you should be addressing. Domestic natural gas production can be safe. Until the cost and efficiency and technological gap of solar, wind, and clean low cost alternaives are achieved, it is our nation’s only realistic hope in the near future for jobs, clean air, energy independence, and the national security all of that brings to us.

  2. Rona Fried

    Shell Oil is also confident it can drill in the Arctic, but has no plan for how to do it and is currently being sued. It also had a huge spill in Nigeria which it never took responsibility for. Even if they were ways to make fracking safe, which studies have yet to show, the oil and gas companies are fighting hard against any regulations that would make it so. The more time we spend subsidizing fossil fuels of any kind, the longer it will take for renewables to catch up. Fossil fuels receive about 10 times the subsidies as renewables, which keeps them cheaper than clean energy, not to mention energy efficiency, which is where the greatest, short terms gains are.


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