Feb 22, 2012
Jim Efsyathiou Jr.
Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- A central New York town can block natural-gas drilling after a state judge, in the first test of local laws, upheld the Town of Dryden’s ban on hydraulic fracturing.
State Supreme Court Judge Phillip Rumsey in a ruling released yesterday said the town’s zoning amendment on gas drilling wasn’t pre-empted by state law. Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp. sued in September, seeking to overturn the ordinance, which bans gas and oil exploration in the town about 200 miles (322 kilometers) northwest of Manhattan.
New York placed a moratorium on the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing in 2010 while state regulators developed environmental rules. Since then, about 20 towns in the state have adopted laws to ban drilling, Karen Edelstein, a geographic information-systems consultant in Ithaca, said.
“I think you’d call this a pretty substantial victory,”
Mahlon Perkins, attorney for Dryden, said yesterday in an interview. “The pertinent part of it is, he declared that the zoning amendment as slightly modified is not pre-empted by state law.”
Tom West, an Albany attorney representing Anschutz, said the ruling was disappointing. Anschutz has 30 days to decide whether to appeal in state court, he said.
“These pure questions of law have a tendency to get reviewed, and different judges can see it differently,” West said in an interview. “We still feel very confident in our position that the oil and gas law does pre-empt municipalities from these types of regulation.”