home rule

Emma Jacobs/WXXI

The highly anticipated decision from the Court of Appeals spread like wildfire Monday through groups on both sides of the fracking debate. Local anti-fracking activists like Otsego 2000 and the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition hailed the ruling for offering protection to communities in New York. Others, like Environmental Advocates of New York and the Natural Resources Defense Council, cheered the decision as a rare example of local concerns winning out over a powerful industry.

man stands at courtroom podium while woman for opposing side sits next to him and listens
Innovation Trail

The debate over whether a municipality can ban hydraulic fracturing within its borders was brought before the State Court of Appeals Tuesday afternoon. The town of Dryden is defending its right to home rule against lawyers representing the bankruptcy trustee for Norse Energy.

Earthjustice managing attorney Deborah Goldberg says she feels confident bringing the case before the court because home rule is protected by the state constitution and New York isn’t alone.

The state’s second highest court, the Appellate Division for the 3rd Department, has ruled in favor of New York towns with bans on gas drilling. In two decisions released Thursday, a four-judge panel ruled unanimously in favor of the Towns of Dryden and Middlefield.

Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg argued for the Town of Dryden. She says the unanimous decisions put to rest the question of whether New York towns can ban drilling.

“I think that it’s quite clear that there is no dispute among them and there should be no dispute generally on this issue,” says Goldberg.

Matt Richmond/WSKG

In two separate rulings Thursday, the state's Appellate Division, Third Department has ruled that the state's Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) does not preempt municipal land use laws.

The decision on so-called 'home rule', was being closely monitored because of the implications for future resource development, which could include hydraulic fracturing or fracking. 

Matt Richmond / WSKG

Oral arguments were completed Thursday in the case that will decide whether New York towns have the right to ban gas drilling. The case comes down to how the panel of four judges will interpret a single sentence.

Environmental Conservation Law 23-0303 says, "The provisions of this law shall supersede all local laws and ordinances relating to the regulation of the oil, gas and solution mining industries."

It then goes on to affirm local authority over road use and property taxes.