New York Towns Can Ban Fracking, State’s Highest Court Rules

Jun 30, 2014 9:22 am ET

June 30 (Bloomberg) --New York’s cities and towns can block hydraulic fracturing within their borders, the state’s highest court ruled, dealing a blow to an industry awaiting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision on whether to uphold a six-year-old statewide moratorium.

The Court of Appeals in Albany today upheld rulings dismissing lawsuits that challenged bans enacted in the upstate towns of Dryden and Middlefield.

The ruling may lead the oil and gas industry to abandon fracking in New York as Cuomo considers whether to lift a statewide moratorium instituted in 2008 that he inherited when he took office.

Fracking in states from North Dakota to Pennsylvania has helped push U.S. natural gas production to new highs in each of the past seven years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, while the practice has come under increasing scrutiny from environmental advocates.

Parts of New York sit above the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation that the Energy Information Administration estimates may hold enough natural gas to meet U.S. consumption for almost six years.

The cases are Anschutz Exploration Corp. v. Dryden, 902/2011, New York Civil Supreme Court, Tompkins County (Ithaca); and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Town of Middlefield, 1700930/2011, New York Civil Supreme Court, Otsego County (Cooperstown).