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Hydrofracking case will be heard in New York Court of Appeals

Ellen Abbott
WRVO, file photo

The challenges to local hydrofracking bans in New York are one step closer toward their last day in court, as the state’s Court of Appeals agreed to consider two challenges of lower court rulings allowing municipal fracking bans in the towns of Dryden and Middlefield.

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

Scott Kurkoski represents a landowner suing the town of Middlefield. 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.”

Kurkoski says he also plans to use the spread of fracking across the country as evidence that New York’s policy is misguided.

"So this 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. It’s just too important for this to be left to this not in my backyard mentality.”

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

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

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

Matt Richmond comes to Binghamton's WSKG, a WRVO partner station in the Innovation Trail consortium, from South Sudan, where he worked as a stringer for Bloomberg, and freelanced for Radio France International, Voice of America, and German Press Agency dpa. He has worked with KQED in Los Angeles, Cape Times in Cape Town, South Africa, and served in the Peace Corps in Cameroon. Matt's masters in journalism is from the Annenberg School for Communication at USC.