New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that cities and towns in the state can bar fracking within their borders, potentially inflicting a heavy blow to the energy industry that was anxiously waiting for Governor Andrew Cuomo to remove a 6-year moratorium against the practice.
The ruling is widely expected to reenergize anti-fracking activists in other states and even act as a sufficient disincentive to fracking companies to list New York off their priority list even if Gov. Cuomo permits the practice.
“This sends a really strong and clear message to the gas companies who have tried to buy their way into the state that these community concerns have to be addressed,” Katherine Nadeau, policy director at anti-fracking lobby Environmental Advocates of New York, told Bloomberg. “This will empower more communities nationwide.”
The Court of Appeals voted 5-2 to uphold the dismissals of cases that challenged fracking bans in Middlefield and Dryden towns. Judge Victoria Graffeo ruled that the two urban centres had exercised zoning authority reasonably when they outlawed oil and gas extraction. She also added that other towns exercised their rights to determine that fracking would permanently change and adversely affect their carefully-cultivated small-town culture.
Fracking or hydraulic fracturing involves creating fractures in underground shale rocks by pumping a mixture of sand, water and chemicals. The bigger fissures ease the flow of oil and gas out of the rock whereby it is pumped to the surface. While the practice has helped U.S. reduce its energy imports over the last seven years, it has also drawn the wrath of environmentalists, who argue that it may ruin farmlands and contaminate air and groundwater quality.
The lawsuits were Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Town of Middlefield, 1700930/2011, New York Civil Supreme Court, Otsego County (Cooperstown); and Anschutz Exploration Corp v. Dryden, 902/2011, New York Civil Supreme Court, Tompkins County (Ithaca). To register for a free 2-week subscription to ForexMinute Premium Plan, visit www.forexminute.com/newsletter.
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