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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Can towns ban hydrofracking? New York's highest court will decide:

Hydrofracking protesters

Hydrofracking protesters

Central New York residents line up outside the main entrance to the New York State Fair last year to protest hydrofracking. The state's highest court said today it will decide whether towns can ban hydrofracking and other gas drilling. (Lauren Long |

Glenn Coin | By Glenn Coin | 
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on August 29, 2013 at 9:54 AM, updated August 29, 2013 at 10:10 AM
New York's highest court will decide whether towns can ban hydrofracking and other gas drilling.
The Court of Appeals announced today it will hear arguments in two cases in which towns banned gas drilling through zoning.
The Tompkins County town of Dryden and the Otsego County town of Middlefield were taken to court after they enacted bans. Gas companies and landowners argued that drilling can be regulated only by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The towns argued that they can ban certain industrial activity, including gas drilling, under zoning laws.
Dryden and Middlefield have won the first two rounds, at the state Supreme Court and mid-level appeals courts.
The decision to hear the case was lauded by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, which favors hydrofracking.
"We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will protect the rights of landowners and allow New York to realize the environmental and economic benefits of natural gas while allowing our nation to maintain its course towards energy independence," read a statement by Scott Kurkoski, a Binghamton attorney who works with the coalition.
A decision by the Court of Appeals could help decide where hydrofracking happens in New York if it is approved. The state has had a moratorium on hydrofracking in place for five years, and the state DEC and Department of Health continue to study the potential effects.
The court today also allowed a variety of groups who are not parties to the lawsuits to submit briefs supporting their positions. Those groups include the New York Farm Bureau, the Associated General Contractors of New York, and the American Petroleum Institute,
Contact Glenn Coin at or 315-470-3251.