Tuesday, July 01, 2014

New York's highest court rules 5-2 that towns can use zoning ordinances to ban fracking

New York is not in a fracking state of mind. The state's high court ruled 5-2 Monday "that towns can use zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing," better known as fracking, Kate Taylor and Thomas Kaplan report for The New York Times.

"In recent years some towns, worried that the state would eventually allow the practice, have taken matters into their own hands by banning fracking within their borders," Taylor and Kaplan write. "Among them, two towns — Dryden, in Tompkins County, and Middlefield, in Otsego County — amended their zoning laws in 2011 to prohibit fracking, on the basis that it would threaten the health, environment and character of the communities." In response to those decisions, an energy company sued, "arguing that state oil and gas law pre-empted the town ordinances." (Read more)

More than 170 towns and cities in New York have used zoning laws to pass bans or moratoria, Joseph De Avila, Mike Vilensky and Russell Gold report for The Wall Street Journal. "New York is the second state in the Northeast, after Pennsylvania, to give municipalities the ability to trump state rules and curtail fracking. Courts in Colorado are examining the same issue. The Marcellus Shale is one of the most prolific natural-gas fields in the world, and 20 percent of it is under New York state." The Utica Shale is also in play. (Journal map)

"Despite the moratorium, New York has increased its use of natural gas. About 39 percent of the electricity it generates is from natural gas, up from 20 percent a decade ago, according to the federal government," the Journal writes. And fracking still has its supporters, with more than 40 communities mostly in areas atop the Marcellus Shale, having "passed resolutions in support of fracking or against bans." (Read more)

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