Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
3rd NY Town Wins in Court Over Fracking Ban

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) A third upstate New York town has won a court challenge to its ban on natural gas drilling as two previous cases are about to be argued before a state appeals court.

Gas drilling company Lenape Resources, based in western New York, had sued the Livingston County town of Avon and the state Department of Environmental Conservation over the town's moratorium on drilling, saying the action threatened to put it out of business after it had operated in the town for decades. Lenape's owner, John Holko, also sought $50 million in damages. He named the Department of Environmental Conservation because he said the agency had a duty to stop towns from enacting local bans.

On March 15, Acting Supreme Court Justice Robert Wiggins in Livingston County ruled against Lenape on all counts. He cited Court of Appeals precedents as well as decisions in favor of local bans in the upstate towns of Dryden and Middlefield.

Appeals of the Dryden and Middlefield decisions will be argued before the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court in Albany on Thursday. The ban on drilling in the Tompkins County town of Dryden was originally challenged by Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp., but after the company declined to pursue an appeal of a trial-level state supreme court ruling in the town's favor, the appeal was filed by Norse Energy, another company with gas wells in western New York.

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