This seems like very good news:
New York’s highest court has upheld the bans on natural gas drilling passed by two small Upstate towns.
It is a major decision for the future of hydrofracking in New York state, where the drilling process has been on hold for more than five years. The decision allows towns to forbid fracking and other forms of gas drilling within their borders. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is still deciding whether to allow hydrofracking in New York.
“Today the court stood with the people of Dryden and the people of New York to protect their right to self determination. It is clear that people, not corporations, have the right to decide how their community develops,” said Dryden Deputy Supervisor Jason Leifer in a prepared statement.
The towns of Middlefield and Dryden had been taken to court over bans their town boards had instituted. Drilling companies argued that only the state could regulate gas drilling; the towns argued that under their “home rule authority” granted by the state they had rights to control land use.
Trial judges, intermediate appeals courts and now the state’s highest court all agreed with the towns.
“The towns appropriately acted within their home rule authority in adopting the challenged zoning laws,” the court of appeals said today. “The zoning laws of Dryden and Middlefield are therefore valid.”
Why shouldn’t a community be able to decide whether outside energy interests can poison their land or not?