NY Court to Decide on Fate of Local Fracking Laws

In the next four to six weeks the New York Supreme Civil Court will decide on two cases that could have implications for the future of fracking in the state. Upstate towns of Dryden and Middlefield are facing challenges to fracking bans that opponents argue are overruled by state law. In 2008 New York lawmakers passed a six year moratorium on fracking. However, an inconsistent patchwork of anti-fracking policies have been instituted across the state and the court must now decide if those bans would hold if the moratorium was lifted.

“Scott Kurkoski, an attorney representing a dairy farm in the town of Middlefield that sued the township to overturn a ban passed in August 2011, told the court today that the state’s Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law prevents local governments from enacting zoning ordinances that ban fracking. The dairy farm signed leases in 2007 to explore and develop natural-gas resources under the property.

‘What we know is that there right now are 70 municipalities in the state of New York who have banned oil and gas drilling,’ Kurkoski said. ‘Are we going to let 932 towns decide the energy policy of New York state?'”

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