Judge Rules Towns Can Prohibit Drilling

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"My Water's On Fire Tonight" is a product of Studio 20 NYU in collaboration with ProPublica.org. The song is based on ProPublica's investigation on hydraulic fractured gas drilling. The song is based on ProPublica's investigation on hydraulic fractured gas drilling. Read the full investigation here.

In a blow to the oil and gas industry, a judge has ruled small towns in New York have the authority to ban drilling, including the controversial method hydrofracking or "fracking."


In August, Dryden’s Town Board used its zoning laws to pass a drilling ban, one salvo in a battle that is playing out nationwide as energy companies move to drill in densely populated areas. A month after the ban’s passage, Anschutz Exploration Corporation, a Colorado driller with 22,200 acres under lease in the town, filed a lawsuit arguing that the town’s authority did not extend to regulating or prohibiting gas drilling.

In a decision issued on Tuesday, Justice Phillip R. Rumsey of State Supreme Court said that state law does not preclude a municipality from using its power to regulate land use to ban oil and natural gas production. The ruling is the first in New York to affirm local powers in the controversy over drilling in the Marcellus Shale, a gas deposit under a large area of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

It is a victory for hydrofracking opponents as New York State regulators revise an environmental impact document and propose drilling regulations to decide whether to allow the drilling and under what conditions. Dozens of other municipalities in New York have also adopted drilling bans and limits.

“The communities targeted for drilling need the power to determine for themselves when, where and if fracking is permitted,” Katherine Nadeau, the water and natural resources program director for Environmental Advocates of New York, said in a statement. She said the ruling would energize “the dozens, if not hundreds, of cities and towns concerned with industrial gas drilling.”

The attorney for the drilling company is already trying to frighten people with possibilities of continued litigation or a claim for lost property and assets, “It could be a very large claim,” he said.

What do you suppose would happen if the towns agreed to drop the ban if the gas and oil industry executives would commit to themselves and their families to drinking nothing but water from communities affected by fracking?


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