Court Affirms Town’s Right to Ban Natural Gas Development Within its Borders
In the first ruling on whether local governments can limit gas drilling, or hydraulic fracturing (fracking), through local zoning ordinances in New York, Judge Phillip R. Rumsey of the Sixth Judicial District of the New York Supreme Court upheld the Town of Dryden’s ban on gas development within its borders. The court granted summary judgment for Dryden, holding that New York’s Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law does not preempt, or supersede, municipal zoning rights. The decision relied on previous cases in which New York courts affirmed municipalities’ rights to ban mining activities through land use regulation.
The court’s decision reaffirmed the long-standing practice of New York towns exercising their zoning authority against heavy industry, and in favor of local protection of residents and existing industries, such as agriculture, wineries, tourism and recreational land uses. Without municipal zoning rights, corporations could drill and frack near homes, schools, hospitals, and religious institutions.
This is only round one in the fight. We anticipate that Plaintiff Anschutz Exploration will appeal the decision. A similar action brought by Cooperstown Holstein Corporation against the Town of Middlefield also remains pending before Judge Donald Cerio of the Sixth Judicial District New York Supreme Court.
Riverkeeper and other organizations will continue to fight to uphold municipal rights. Meanwhile, we need you to urge your State Senator to pass the Home Rule Bill, S5380, which would legislatively guarantee your municipality’s right to protect you from fracking! You can find your Senator’s contact information here.