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A judge delivered a blow to the oil and gas industry by ruling that small towns in New York possess the authority to prohibit drilling within their borders, including the contentious process known as fracking.
State Supreme Court Justice Philip Rumsey, in a decision released late Tuesday, he ruled that recent ban on gas drilling of the Ithaca suburb of Dryden falls within the power of local governments to control local land use.
Anschutz Exploration Corporation, which holds leases on over 22,000 acres or 8,900 hectares in the town and has spent around $5.1 million in drilling operations in the area, argued that the ban is in violation of a state law which was designed to institute uniform policies for oil and gas drilling and promote the extraction of those resources.
However, Justice Rumsey disagreed, saying that the law was not drafted to favor the industry but rather to regulate it in a manner that will “prevent waste … and protect the rights of all persons.”
In his decision, Rumsey wrote, “Nowhere in the legislative history (of the state oil and gas law) is there any suggestion that the legislature intended – as argued by Anschutz – to encourage the maximum ultimate recovery of oil and gas … or to preempt local zoning authority.”