Target: Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, New York Court of Appeals
Goal: Applaud decision to let communities ban dangerous drilling practices
New York State’s top court recently upheld the right of communities to establish zoning ordinance which ban dangerous hydraulic fracturing (fracking). While a statewide ban on fracking is still in question, allowing communities to decide for or against fracking or drilling for gas or oil could make the statewide ban a moot point.
In June, 2014, the court of appeals ruled 5-2 to uphold “home rule,” which allows cities and towns to vote individually against industries which threaten common resources. In the case of fracking, the threat to common resources refers to the inherent danger of air and water pollution caused by the process. Fracking has been linked to earthquakes and groundwater contamination and is known to contribute to climate change through the release of high amounts of methane gas.
An appeal against zoning ordinances that ban fracking was brought to the court by a dairy farm which had leased land out to a gas drilling company, and an energy company with oil and gas leases in Dryden. Since the leases were obtained prior to the introduction of the zoning ordinances in 2011, the companies sought to appeal the bans on the grounds that state laws on oil and gas extraction pre-empted the ordinances.
The moratorium on fracking in New York State has been in place since 2008, but is being challenged by energy companies and awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to lift or uphold the ban. Thanks to the decision to uphold the zoning ordinances, however, the 170 New York communities with bans will not be forced to allow dangerous fracking and drilling.
Applaud the decision to continue to allow the citizens of New York State to ban fracking and drilling from their cities and towns.
Dear Chief Judge Lippman,
Hydraulic fracturing is known to cause both environmental and health dangers. Groundwater contamination from faulty wells and the use of toxic chemicals in the extraction process threatens animals, humans and the environment, and the high levels of methane gas released during the process of fracking are known to contribute to climate change. These are the concerns of the citizens of New York which led to the zoning ordinances allowing cities and towns to individually ban fracking and drilling for oil and gas.
These ordinances were recently brought to the state’s Court of Appeals, in a lawsuit that threatened to dismantle the right of a community to decide whether practices it found unsafe should be allowed. Thankfully, the decision was made to uphold the bans which currently exist in 170 communities in New York State.
I applaud the decision to allow the citizens of New York to decide what they consider safe for their families and homes, thereby protecting communities from corporations who would ignore public health and safety.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Credo.fracking via Flickr