All Fracking Eyes On New York Court Of Appeals, The state’s highest court soon will rule whether local governments have the authority to ban fracking in their jurisdictions

Dryden Fracking Ban to be Tried in New York Court of Appeals by Gretchen Reeves, October 26, 2013, Houghton Star
A recent amendment to zoning legislation in the town of Dryden, NY has propelled the town of 15,000 up to New York State’s highest court and to the forefront of the anti-fracking cause. Despite being banned in over 50 towns in New York State, few have been as strategic or promising for natural gas extraction as Dryden, which is situated on more than 141 trillion cubic feet of gas protected by the Marcellus Shale formation. The main group to attempt to seize on this opportunity has been Norse Energy Corporation USA, originally based in Norway, who is being represented as a plaintiff in the case to be tried at the New York State Court of Appeals.

The State of New York is currently under a five-year moratorium on fracking that was enacted by former Governor David Patterson in 2008 and extended indefinitely by current Governor Andrew Cuomo until further research by the State Health Department concludes. The moratorium also prohibits any lower-level activity which would interfere with state jurisdiction over the extraction process. While Norse Energy alleges that Dryden’s zoning changes intersects with state law, town residents state that the legislation merely prohibits “heavy industrial development” on land within the town and does not attempt to regulate the oil, gas, and mining industries. In addition to the nature of the changes, Dryden residents point out that the town’s decisions have been upheld by multiple lower-level courts in the state.

Dryden’s case with Norse Energy is not the town’s first on the matter of fracking. 2012 saw a lawsuit with Anschutz Exploration Corp., in which Cortland County Court upheld the town’s zoning ban. Another case was resolved similarly in the same month, with Middlefield, another town west of Dryden, maintaining its anti-fracking activities in a case against a dairy farmer in the area who had contracted with Elexco Land Services, Inc. to seek out natural gas resources on her property. [Emphasis added]

All Fracking Eyes On New York Court Of Appeals, The state’s highest court soon will rule whether local governments have the authority to ban fracking in their jurisdictions by Trisha Marczak, October 25, 2013, mintpressnews
The fate of fracking in New York State rests in a decision soon to be made by the state’s Court of Appeals — one that will determine whether local governments have the authority to ban hydraulic fracturing within city and township limits. The decision will not only be paramount for New York, but for the entire country, as the state is unique throughout the nation for having put up what has so far been an effective fight against the fracking industry. Along with township and city bans throughout New York, the state is also subject to a moratorium, the only of its kind in the United States.

The Court of Appeals decision comes down to one of the many New York communities that has banned fracking. According to FracTracker, more than 160 New York communities have bans and moratoriums in place. Front and center is Dryden, population 14,500. In 2011, the small community passed a zoning ordinance that banned hydraulic fracturing, prompting the lawsuit that now awaits decision in New York’s highest court. The ban passed unanimously by the town board, drawing approval across the political spectrum. The lawsuit has so far fallen in Dryden’s favor. In May, a state appellate division court gave Dryden residents a boost, ruling the community did have the authority to issue the ban. The Court of Appeals ruling will either give credence to Dryden and the thousands of New York citizens fighting for their land, or will send a message to the oil and gas industry that New York is open for business. “It’s going to decide the future of the oil and gas industry in the state of New York,” Thomas West, a lawyer for Norse Energy Corporation USA, which is attempting to overturn the bans, told the New York Times.

The lawsuit launched against the small community was filed by Anschutz Exploration Corporation, a company under the umbrella of Phillip Anschutz, who has an estimated net worth of $7.5 billion. According to environmental organization EarthJustice, the success of Dryden’s grassroots fight against the oil and gas industry belongs to its rural residents. When swathes of land were being bought up by the industry all around them, area residents came together in 2009 to form a community advocacy organization that could stand up to save their town. It was that year that the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition was created. From there, members took to the streets, gathering petitions, informing their neighbors, holding public information sessions and lobbying their local board. When the town board vote was issued in 2011, it was clear where the community stood. The community opposition to the fracking industry wasn’t abstract or ideological — instead, it had to do with real concerns over an industry that threatened to impact their daily lives.

Fracking well pads, home to fracking wells, run day and night — and they’re not silent. The issue of heavy truck transportation on otherwise quiet, gravel roads was also a concern, as many residents who live in that area do so for its peace and quiet. And like every other community voicing concern over fracking, there’s a real question over whether groundwater sources will be contaminated. “The people of Dryden want to preserve the special character of our town and make sure it continues to be a healthy community for generations to come,” Dryden Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner told EarthJustice writer Hilary Lambert, who grew up in Dryden. “The oil and gas industry may wish it were otherwise, but municipalities have the right to determine what types of development are appropriate within their borders. We are firmly committed to defending that right.”

“We have Republicans, Democrats, Independents, people from every part of the political spectrum, and people from every part of the state,” John Armstrong, a representative of the New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition, told Mint Press News in June. … Ultimately, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has the final say in this battle. With a swipe of the pen, he could unleash the industry onto the state’s Marcellus shale formation — if the Court of Appeals rules against Dryden, it could also open access to now-banned areas. … New Yorkers have one advantage in their battle against the industry — their neighbors in Pennsylvania set the example they knew they didn’t want to follow. That state, which also sits atop the Marcellus Shale formation, has become a hub for the fracking industry. Since 2002, more than 5,000 gas wells have been drilled — and according to residents, the consequences haven’t gone unnoticed. Pennsylvania has been hit with an abundance of health concerns, with area residents living near gas wells complaining of illnesses among both humans and animals. Terry Greenwald, who has been farming in the area for 20 years, discovered his cows giving birth to stillborn calves after a nearby fracking site went up. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Frackez-vous: French court passes ultimate fracking ban; France’s Fracking Ban ‘Absolute’ After Court Upholds Law, Frac ban in France is constitutional, Judgement: Schuepbach Energy LLC

Gas in your maple syrup, Du gaz dans ton sirop

Germany may ban fracking over environmental concerns

Mora: Lawyers Lining Up to Help

First County in U.S. Bans Fracking and all Hydrocarbon Extraction – Mora County, New Mexico

Federal judge stops Monterey Shale fracking leases, Judge finds risks ‘completely ignored’

Fracking hell, Vermont bans controversial practice, but Alberta still gung-ho

Vermont first state to ban fracking

Vermont Passes First Statewide Fracking Ban

Vermont first state in nation to ban fracking for oil and gas ]

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