The state Appellate Division announced its decision today that local governments in New York can ban hydraulic fracturing and shale gas drilling within their borders, ruling unanimously in favor of the Tompkins County town of Dryden and the Otsego County town of Middlefield. Both of these towns passed zoning laws that prohibit natural-gas drilling, which were challenged in and upheld by two different trial courts. In February 2012, Riverkeeper, represented by NRDC, filed amicus briefs in support of the towns in the appeals of the trial court decisions subsequently filed.
Following is a statement by Kate Hudson, Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper:
“The court’s decision is monumental, as it confirms the right of municipalities in New York to exercise their ‘Home Rule’ authority to zone out natural gas development. Today these municipalities’ right to protect their citizens from the harmful effects of fracking was clearly upheld. Without these rights, corporations would have the unfettered ability to drill and frack within a few feet from homes, schools, hospitals, and religious institutions and local government would be powerless to intervene.
This ruling makes it absolutely clear that communities do have the authority to determine uses of their land and take measures to protect their residents and environment should fracking move forward in New York and will set the precedent for other town officials previously unsure about their authority to follow suit.”