NY State’s Top Court to Review Local Fracking Bans

ALBANY (AP) -

New York’s highest court agreed Thursday to hear appeals from a drilling company and a farmer challenging municipal bans on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

The Court of Appeals, without comment, accepted two cases where lower courts upheld bans in the upstate towns of Middlefield in Otsego County and Dryden, near Ithaca.

If the case is handled routinely, it will be argued and decided next spring, court spokesman Gary Spencer said. In requesting top court review, nobody has yet asked to expedite the case.

New York hasn’t decided whether to lift a 5-year-old moratorium on fracking. State health officials are still studying its effects.

A midlevel court unanimously concluded in May that state mining and drilling law doesn’t trump the authority of local governments to control land use. More than 50 New York municipalities have banned gas drilling in the past few years, and more than 100 have enacted moratoriums on drilling activities.