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Energy Corp. USA v. Town of Dryden

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20145
Nos. 130, 131, (N.Y., 06/30/2014)

New York's highest court held that local governments may ban oil and gas production activities, including hydraulic fracturing, through the adoption of local zoning laws. The case arose after two towns enacted zoning laws banning hydraulic fracturing within their jurisdictions. A private gas company and a private property owner filed suit, claiming that the supersession clause in the statewide Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) preempted the zoning laws. They argued that the clause should be interpreted broadly to reach zoning laws that restrict or prohibit oil and gas activities, including hydraulic fracturing, within municipal boundaries. But the court disagreed. In light of the clause's plain language, its place within the OGSML's framework, and the legislative background, the court concluded that nothing in the supersession clause evinces a clear expression of preemptive intent. Rather, the OGSML's preemptive reach pertains to safety, technical, and operational aspects of oil and gas activities across the state, not matters normally associated with land use regulation. The towns' zoning laws, therefore, are valid.