Hydrofracking Can Be Banned in Dryden, NY


A court decided yesterday that the upstate town of Dryden — located in Tompkins county — can bar hydrofracking — marking a major win for fracking opponents.

The New York Times reports that Dryden’s battle began in August, when the town’s board passed a zoning law that bans gas drilling within city limits. The town’s decision reflects a nationwide trend, according to the Times: as oil and gas concerns move into populated areas, municipalities are doing whatever they can to keep drillers out.

Anschutz Exploration Corporation, which holds the lease on 22,000 acres under Dryden, shot back with a lawsuit, claiming the town doesn’t have the authority to regulate drilling.

The judge’s decision maintains that state law does not prevent a municipality from controlling land use via zoning — even if a township’s decisions effect petroleum exploration.

Anschutz might very well appeal the judge’s decision. The Colorado-based concern could also sue based upon a “takings” claim — in other words, the company could argue that Dryden took private property without compensation.

New Yorkers have long been worried about fracking, since Governor Andrew Cuomo sought to lift a moratorium on the process in June.

Department of Environmental Protection honchos have recently been trying to figure out guidelines for fracking, which had previously been banned in the state. New Yorkers have been quite outraged with the prospect of hydraulic fracking — which injects chemicals and water into underground rock formations to release gas.

The Environmental Protection Agency has also voiced concern, and wants New York to come up with radiation guidelines, since byproducts of the process might be radioactive.