A small vicotry for local planning & zoning

The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of a town’s zoning ordinance that prohibits hydraulic fracturing within its municipal boundaries. Considering a gas developer has signed numerous leases already, this decision will be challenged.

But this is a big deal coming on the heels of the legislative action in Pennsylvania in which the state trumps local zoning to determine where drilling may occur. The quid pro quo offered to local governments is a drilling fee that counties may collect from developers. That situation is more complicated than the two lines I’ve given it here, so I hope to expand on it in another post. For now, though, this is a small but significant victory for local planning and zoning.

Feb 23 update: a second article in the NYTimes points to the complication this ruling creates, primarily due to another lawsuit from a landowner against her local town board. Does this ruling allow town planning and zoning to outweigh landowners’ mineral rights? A very intriguing jurisdictional conflict is upon the folks in New York. I’m not entirely sure how North Carolina can sort that from the ground floor should hydraulic fracturing be allowed here.

On a side note: it is always interesting to comb through the headlines that Google Alerts compiles in a day, because some trends emerge. The end of last week and early this week, headlines were dominated by the Texas Energy Institute study, especially held up by industry-leaning reports highlighting the one conclusion that there is no direct link to groundwater contamination from fracking. A couple headlines on that subject pulled out the conclusion that greater transparency and oversight is needed. Now, between yesterday and today, numerous web publications holding up this court ruling in favor of local zoning restrictions to fracking. Just an observation, but even in publishing information about fracking, the news is polarized.


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