New York State Ruling is a Huge Victory Against Fracking Industry

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For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Washington, D.C. – A new ruling by New York’s highest court protecting local communities’ right to ban oil and gas drilling in their backyards is a “big win for every town across the state fighting to safeguard the health of their environment and homes,” Environmental Working Group said in a statement today.

Yesterday, the New York State Court of Appeals decided that the towns of Dryden and Middlefield can use their local zoning authorities to keep out oil and gas drilling activities.

“The decision is a huge victory for the environmental health of communities and their residents,” said Heather White, EWG’s Executive Director. “Because Dryden and Middlefield rightfully took matters into their own hands to protect their homes, water and land, other towns across the state now have solid legal grounds to stop drilling companies from threatening their way of life.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an extraction technique that injects chemicals and water into underground rock formations to increase the flow of oil and gas to the surface. It is inherently risky, and scientific evidence does not support the drilling industry’s claims that it can be done without harming human health and drinking water.

In addition to the state’s highest court, a state trial court judge and a panel of appellate court judges agreed that the two towns had the right to make local land use decisions related to oil and gas development, under the state’s home rule provision.

“The decision has put fracking in New York on a different course,” White said.  “We hope it will encourage communities nationwide to take a stand against oil and gas companies who care more about profits than the water we drink and the air we breathe.”

EWG has helped bring to light the potential dangers of allowing high-volume fracking in New York and elsewhere. Last year, EWG warned N.Y. officials that their proposed fracking rules were flawed and contained too many gaps to ensure drilling could be conducted safely.

A special thanks to the legal team at EarthJustice and Goldman Environmental Prize's brilliant lawyer Helen Slottje for all of their advocacy and work on this case.

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