Sunday, February 26, 2012

Town's ban on Fracking NOT pre-empted by state law

From Bloomberg News

Bans on natural gas drilling in two New York towns were each upheld by state judges this week.

Middlefield, New York’s 2011 ban on gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, was upheld by State Supreme Court Judge Donald Cerio Jr. yesterday, according to Tom West, an attorney representing Cooperstown Holstein Corp., a dairy farm that challenged the ban. On Feb. 21, State Supreme Court Judge Phillip Rumsey said the Town of Dryden’s ban on drilling wasn’t preempted by state law.

The local bans target hydraulic fracturing for gas, a process in which chemically treated water is forced underground to break up rock and free trapped gas. Environmental groups say the process threatens drinking water supplies.

“This is really the kiss of death for drilling in New York,” West said in an interview. “No prudent operator is going to invest in leases in New York if those leases are at the mercy of a zoning ban.”

New York placed a moratorium on the drilling process known as fracking in 2010 while state regulators developed environmental rules. Since then, about 20 towns in the state have adopted laws to ban drilling, according to Karen Edelstein, a geographic information-systems consultant in Ithaca.

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