From: Eric Niiler, Discovery News
Published February 24, 2012 11:36 AM

Small Town Gets Court To Ban Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has been linked to everything from polluted water to earthquakes but the rush toward developing the practice hasn't slowed much.


Although, residents of small towns across New York state have something to be hopeful for. They were successful in banning the practice, for now.

Could this be how the controversy is resolved?

This week, a New York state judge ruled that the town of Dryden, N.Y., could prohibit fracking as part of its zoning ordinance. It's one of 30 towns throughout central and southern New York that have taken the step. State environmental officials in New York placed a moratorium on fracking while they come up with new regulations to cover oil and gas drilling in the underground geological deposits.

Environmental groups say the ruling is a victory for residents who are concerned that fracking contaminates drinking water supplies by leaking hazardous chemicals like methane that occur in naturally in hydrological deposits, or other toxic compounds that are used to flush out the gas.

"A number of towns were waiting to see how the litigation gets settled," said Kate Hudson, watershed program director for the group Riverkeeper. "But nobody thinks it is the end."

Adam Schultz, a Syracuse attorney who represents the interests of several oil and gas drilling companies, said the New York judge's ruling was "unfortunate."

"I don't think (the ruling) is consistent with the intent of the legislation and it will encourage some communities to think they have some authority that they ultimately will be told they don't have," Schultz said. "This is the lowest level court. I'm confident it will be overturned. It's 180 degrees from what the (New York) legislature intended."

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