Prof. John Nolon speaks on public radio about NY municipalities taking it upon themselves to ban hydrofracking

Prof. John Nolon of the Pace Land Use Law Center was interviewed for a story about New York municipalities trying to use “local controls” to ban hydrofracking.The story, produced by the New York Reporting Project at Utica College, aired on various New York public radio stations, including North Country Public Radio and WRVO Public Media.

According to the story, the town of Dryden, NY is going to be a test case for whether local zoning codes can be used to prohibit the controversial method of drilling for natural gas.

Dryden’s ban is being challenged in a lawsuit by a Colorado company, Anschutz Exploration, which has invested $5.1 million to drill on more than 22 thousand acres of land there. Anschutz claims that the state’s environmental conservation law–which gives the DEC the authority to regulate the oil and gas industry–is on its side because of a provision saying it “supersedes” all related local laws except those regarding roads and property taxes.

According to the story: “That clause may be the industry’s ticket to drill even if townspeople don’t want it. These two competing interpretations of law seemed destined for a court fight, and Anschutz and Dryden may be the test case that resolves the issue.”

Professor Nolon says there may be a precedent in an earlier decision about mining.

“This exact dilemma came up when local governments began to regulate gravel mining and sand extraction. Turns out the ECL law has a similar provision superseding ability to regulate operations. The courts left intact their ability to determine where under zoning gravel mines could be placed,” he said.

Listen to the full story here.


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