An excerpt of an article from The New York Times (October 23, 2013):
In August 2011, the town [Dresden, NY] passed a zoning ordinance effectively forbidding hydraulic fracturing, the controversial gas extraction method also known as fracking. The ordinance, passed after a feisty local lobbying effort, prompted a lawsuit now being mulled by New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, whose ruling could settle the long-simmering issue of whether the state’s municipalities can ban the drilling process.
The lawsuit is currently being filed by Norse Energy Corporation USA, in which they are asking the court to overturn the town’s ban. The ban was accomplished by anti-fracking activist organizations who were able to gain the support of the community.
There has been a fight going on for years between Gov. Cuomo of NY, fracking companies, and anti-fracking groups over whether NY as a state should allow fracking. Currently, there are a few states that have allowed it, with mixed results. The positives are that towns where it is being done have seen an increase in jobs. The down side is that there is evidence cited by environmental organizations that fracking has led to intolerable pollution of drinking water, as well as health effects caused by being around or living near fracking sites. Many individuals have stepped forward to talk about their personal experiences of getting sick because of fracking on their land, and many have pets and farm animals that have gotten sick and died, too.
What this article highlights is the increasing frequency of individual towns creating their own laws to ban fracking when state govt.’s fail to institute state-wide bans. It also highlights the uncertain legality of such bans- will courts uphold the bans when they are challenged? From the NY Times article:
Dryden was not the first place to act against fracking, nor the first place where such bans have been subject to legal challenges. Bans are increasingly common in cities, towns and even counties across the country, including Pittsburgh, which did so in 2010, and Highland Park, N.J., a New York City suburb, where the Borough Council outlawed fracking on Sept. 17.
That’s what makes this case so important- if the ban is upheld, more towns in NY, as well as other states, will have the freedom to enact fracking bans without having to wait for states to do so.
I personally hope that Dryden’s ban is upheld in court. It will be a very positive and empowering way for citizens who are afraid that Gov. Cuomo will cave to pressure from fracking companies (who, by the way, have contributed millions of dollars to him so far, presumably in exchange for his support) to take matters into their own hands. There is tons of evidence that fracking causes devastating damage to the environment, as well as damage to the health of people and animals, yet Gov. Cuomo says he needs more time to “look into it” before he makes up his mind. Yeah right!! He’s been “looking into it” for years, with no conclusive results. He’s been giving New Yorkers and organizations such as NYPIRG (a NY-based activist and research group I volunteer with sometimes) the same song and dance every time we demand answers.
Fracking companies have tried to hide any negative information about fracking from the public, but there are several websites and resources you can look up on your own to get the facts. Here are a few: