Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
Dryden's Court Battle Over Fracking Progresses

In the court battle over home-rule law and hydraulic fracturing bans,New York’s highest court now has written arguments from both parties of the landmark lawsuit.

On Monday, Earthjustice filed its written arguments on the Town of Dryden’s behalf with the New York Court of Appeals. Earthjustice is the nonprofit law organization representing the town pro bono.

On Oct. 28, the West Firm PLLC filed arguments on behalf of plaintiff Norse Energy Corp. USA. Norse has until Jan. 6 to reply to the Earthjustice arguments.

Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled, but they could occur during May or June, Court of Appeals Public Information Officer Gary Spencer said.

Decisions are usually handed down during the session after they are argued, Spencer said. “That would mean most likely June or early July for a decision,” he said.

“This precedent-setting case will settle the matter once and for all across New York state,” Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg said in a news release.

The lawsuit could decide whether New York municipalities have the right to establish zoning ordinances that ban fracking, a natural-gas extraction method.

In Earthjustice’s written arguments, Goldberg said that when the state Legislature authorized the state to regulate oil and gas industries, it did not clearly express intentions to revoke traditional land use powers, and the state constitution and statutes protect the authority of municipalities to control the use of land within their borders.

In West Firm PLLC’s written arguments, attorney Thomas West said the state has the power to pre-empt local zoning, and that one law expressly pre-empts and supersedes town prohibition of fracking. He also argues that lower courts erred in finding relevant legal precedent for Dryden’s argument.

State Supreme Court Justice Phillip Rumsey and the State of New York Supreme Court previously ruled in favor of the town.

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