Starkey Citizens for a Clean & Healthy Environment
In Fracking Court Fight, Upstate Community Gets Legal Help From 50 Other Towns

Albany, NY - An Upstate New York town fighting to preserve its way of life is getting some legal help from a coalition of 53 other municipalities, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, and a coalition of businesses, legal experts, and environmental groups.

The coalition filed briefs late yesterday in two court cases over whether an oil and gas company should be allowed to overrule local zoning laws limiting industrial oil and gas development. The lawsuit was initially brought by the privately-held Anschutz Exploration Corporation, owned by billionaire Phillip Anschutz (net worth: $7.5 billion), against the Town of Dryden (population: 14,500).

The company brought its lawsuit after the Dryden Town Board approved a change to its zoning ordinance that prohibited use of land within the town for oil and gas development activities, including fracking. The Dryden Town Board’s unanimous, bipartisan vote followed a petition drive and a series of public hearings, in which residents spoke out 3 to 1 in favor of the change.

“The people of Dryden want to preserve the special character of our town and make sure it continues to be a healthy community for generations to come,” said Dryden Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner. “The oil and gas industry may wish it were otherwise, but municipalities have the right to determine what types of development are appropriate within their borders. We are firmly committed to defending that right.”

Yesterday’s filing follows news last week that the State of New York had quietly moved to issue revised regulations for hydraulic fracturing or fracking, in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the ground to force out gas. The revised regulations, which have come under fire for preceding a study into the health impacts of fracking, puts the state one step closer to allowing the controversial practice to proceed in New York.

“If the state chooses to allow fracking in spite of the public’s grave concerns, local communities have no choice but to defend themselves,” said Caroline Town Supervisor Don Barber. “We all know that impacts from gas drilling do not end at county lines, just as they don’t end at property lines
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