NY Court of Appeals to Hear Lawsuits Challenging Hydraulic Fracturing Ban

on September 06, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Anti-Fracking Activists Rally In Washington

NY Court of Appeals will decide whether state municipalities can use local zoning laws to ban hydraulic fracturing.


Extent of Marcellus Shale Formation in NY State (Syracuse)

On August 29, 2013, the Albany Court of Appeals  announced its decision to consider two lawsuits challenging the authority of New York (NY) State municipalities to enact local zoning laws to ban oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing.  The two cases – Norse Energy Corp. vs. Town of Dryden and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. vs. Town of Middlefield – have important implications for NY State, which has held a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for five years.

In 2011, Dryden and Middlefield enacted local zoning ordinances banning hydraulic fracturing and other activities related to exploration, production, and storage of natural gas within their borders.  Petitioners argued that local municipalities are pre-empted by NY State’s Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) from enacting bans on oil and gas development.  However, lower courts ruled that zoning laws are valid and upheld the ban.  In May, the Third Appellate Division of the NY State Supreme Court in Albany upheld the lower courts’ decisions and rejected arguments of drillers and landowners.

NY State is in the process of studying the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing before considering an end to the moratorium.  In February, NY State Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah sought more time to complete the Public Health Review on the impact of hydraulic fracturing.  The health review and the ongoing environmental impact study by NY State Department of Environmental Conservation will provide the groundwork to formulate regulations that could permit high volume hydraulic fracturing in the state.

The Court decision has brought a new turn to the ongoing debate over hydraulic fracturing in the state as industry is keen on tapping the state’s natural gas resources.

August 30, 2013 via Energy Solutions Forum

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