Court Upholds Towns' Rights to Ban Fracking
The hydraulic fracturing sector is assessing the impact of a ruling late last month by New York state's highest court that municipalities have the right to stop the practice.
At issue were challenges to bans on oil-and-gas production activities, including shale gas drilling, that were enacted in the upstate towns of Middlefield and Dryden. In a 5-2 decision on June 30, the New York Court of Appeals ruled to uphold the local zoning laws, a move that is being hailed as a major victory for small towns.
The towns "appropriately acted within their home rule authority in adopting the challenged zoning laws," the court said in its ruling. "We find no legislative intent, much less a requisite 'clear expression,' requiring the preemption of local land-use regulations."
There are many towns statewide that have banned fracking or put moratoriums in place. Last year, the state Assembly adopted a resolution to suspend state permits for fracking for two years to give lawmakers time to review health and safety data (ENR New York 4/8/13).
New York State
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SolarCity, the largest U.S. solar-panel installer, says it may build a more than 1-million gigawatt manufacturing plant in New York state during the next two years. The San Mateo, Calif.-based firm adds that if it follows through with the plan, the plant would be the world's largest solar panel facility.