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Energy

New York driller sues town, DEC over drilling ban

In a lawsuit filed by Lenape Resources against the Town of Avon and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Lenape is seeking either an injunction against the town's ban on natural gas drilling or $50 million in compensation.

Lenape's complaint is a grab bag of legal arguments: the DEC has sole authority over oil and gas regulation (the argument used in the Dryden/Middlefield cases); the town overstepped its police powers (the argument used in the Binghamton case); and a constitutional claim - the ban is a regulatory taking and, if ruled legal, Lenape should be compensated (that's a new one).

The town, which sits 60 miles east of Buffalo and well outside of Marcellus Shale drilling hot spots, passed a moratorium on all new natural gas operations in June. According to Lenape president John Holko, a grandfather clause in the moratorium that would have allowed Lenape to keep its 16 existing wells, was not enough for the company's operations in Avon to remain viable.

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