Jennifer Huntington, President of the Cooperstown Holstein Corp., has filed a lawsuit against the town of Middlefield, NY, seeking to overturn zoning laws enacted on June 28, which prevent natural gas drilling even on Huntington’s property, for which she has already leased.
Anschutz Exploration Corp., filed the second lawsuit against the town of Dryden, NY over 22,000 acres of leased acres that they have leases for but are unable to drill on because of an updated zoning law that banned hydraulic fracturing.
Both lawsuits are challenging the zoning laws on the basis that the state has the power to regulate drilling, not the municipalities. With at least 13 municipalities in the state placing bans on natural gas drilling and more considering bans, the two cases have the potential to set precedent, the Utica Observer-Dispatch reported.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has said that the state supersedes municipalities for regulation laws. According to DEC, spokesperson Emily Desantis, local moratoriums, or drilling bans would not prevent fracking permits from being issued by the DEC, but local laws would be taken into consideration, and each drilling company would have to declare whether or not their proposals are in line with local laws. The DEC is currently updating a fracking impact study, and no permits will be issued until the study is completed.