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Where drillers want to use hydrofracking in New York: pending well permit applications for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Image: Innovation Trail
Where drillers want to use hydrofracking in New York: pending well permit applications for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Image: Innovation Trail

Fracking ban challenges move to NY's highest court

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The challenges to local fracking bans in New York are a step closer to their last day in court.

The state's highest court yesterday agreed to consider cases against the Towns of Dryden and Middlefield.

The plaintiffs had to apply to the Court of Appeals for the chance to appeal because the lower courts were unanimous in deciding against them.

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Reported by

Matt Richmond
Reporter, The Innovation Trail

Scott Kurkoski represents a landowner challenging the Town of Middlefield’s ban. He says lower courts incorrectly relied on Court of Appeals decisions that favored the use of home rule to prohibit gravel mines, “I think what you’re about to see is that the Court of Appeals will correct that and say this is not the same. When we’re talking about energy, it’s not the same as gravel.”

The high-stakes cases will determine whether towns in New York State can use their zoning powers to keep frackers out.

Supporters of fracking often suggest the 100 or so local fracking laws already on the books, along with a statewide five year moratorium, are scaring away industry investment.

Kurkoski plans to use the spread of fracking across the country as evidence that New York’s policy is misguided. "Tthis is a decision or an issue that is affecting municipalities and states throughout the country. And other states are deciding that the issue of energy is not a local issue,” he said.  “It’s just too important for this to be left to this not in my backyard mentality.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo said recently that fracking in some areas would provide a welcomed economic boost if the environmental costs aren’t too high.

Kurkoski says he expects a final decision within the next six months.

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