New York towns can prohibit fracking, state appeals court rules.

Guardian: “Opponents of hydraulic fracturing celebrated a major victory over the oil and gas industry on Monday after the highest court in New York state agreed that cities and towns can prohibit drilling within their boundaries.”
“In a 5-2 ruling, the New York state court of appeals affirmed previous court decisions that two towns in upstate New York – Dryden and Middlefield – had the authority to use zoning ordinances to control land use, effectively banning hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. Drillers and landowners that brought the suits against the towns argued that state law prohibited them from blocking fracking.
A statewide moratorium imposed in 2008 has kept oil and gas companies from digging into New York’s share of the Marcellus Shale, and this decision deals another blow to the industry.
“In New York at least the communities know that they have the power to protect themselves, and we’re hopeful that it will be an inspiration to people around the country,” said Deborah Goldberg, the lawyer who argued on behalf of the town of Dryden, which was sued by Norse Energy, an Oslo-based petroleum and natural gas company. The Middlefied case was brought by a dairy farm that had leased its land for drilling.
Goldberg added: “If we had not won this case, localities would be completely at the mercy of the industry.”
Before Monday’s court decision, 77 municipalities had passed permanent bans against fracking, and more than 100 municipalities had enacted temporary moratoriums, according to Karen Edelstein, a New York program coordinator at FracTracker Alliance. And roughly 40 towns have passed resolutions in support of gas development, according to the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.
All eyes are now on New York governor Andrew Cuomo who must decide whether to uphold the statewide moratorium he inherited when taking office in 2011. The moratorium bans fracking, which is a controversial way of accessing natural gas in shale rock by pumping water, sand and chemicals into wells at very high pressures.
….The state has more than 900 towns, meaning the lifting of the statewide moratorium could leave a patchwork of towns where fracking is banned.”