middlefield

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.

Wyoming: Upper Green Valley / via Flickr

In a decision released Friday, acting Supreme Court Justice Donald F. Cerio, Jr. ruled that the Town of Middlefield can ban oil and gas drilling within its borders.

The decision is virtually identical to one from earlier in the week in Tompkins County. In both cases, the judges decided that the state maintains control over "how" drilling can be done while local governments keep control of "where" it can happen.

Another town ban on natural gas drilling is being challenged in court.  Just one day before the Town of Dryden was sued by driller Anschutz, the Town of Middlefield in Otsego County was the subject of a lawsuit.

Jennifer Huntington, a dairy farm, brought the suit against the town board on September 15. She claims that the town's ban on gas drilling violates New York state law.

The town's law - and the argument against - it are nearly identical to the Dryden case.