Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
“Free” Advice on Natural Gas Yields $50MM Lawsuit

The lawsuit filed by Lenape Resources against the Town of Avon and the DEC is a superb overview of New York State law regarding natural gas development and the reasons why the efforts of two former dollar store owners from Ithaca are unlikely to prevail in their cynical campaign to kill natural gas development in New York through local bans and moratoriums.

Last week’s press was full of stories from the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and Washington Examiner, among others, regarding Lenape Resources’ lawsuit against the Town of Avon, Livingston County, New York. Lenape is challenging Avon for enacting a “moratorium and prohibition” relating to natural gas development. A similar suit is expected against the nearby Town of Caledonia.

The storyline has largely focused on this being the fourth test of the legal ability of New York communities to enact such laws. This misses the big point, though. This is not only the first case to directly take on the “free” legal advice of the Slottje duo as to both substance and process, but it also demands that New York doesn’t permit their continued undermining of its regulatory program. It puts a potential price-tag of more than $5o million on the cost of entertaining legislation funded by special interest natural gas opponents.

Most importantly, it’s an exceptionally strong case, built on a foundation of legislative history, industry specifics and common sense. The complaint provides real insights on how current state law came to be and why it is what it is, with new information and compelling points that didn’t make it into the arguments surrounding the first three cases. It’s well worth reading for everyone with a stake in the “home rule” debate over natural gas development.
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