Municipalities May Ban Hydrofracking

The Appellate Division ruled that the New York Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) does not prevent a Town from enacting zoning that prohibits hydrofracking. In Matter of Norse Energy Corp. USA v. Town of Dryden, the Court held that provisions of the ECL that regulate mining did not conflict with the ability of municipalities to enact zoning codes that prohibit certain mining activities.

Noting that "[A]mong the powers delegated to local governments is the authority to regulate the use of land through the enactment of zoning laws (see Municipal Home Rule Law § 10 [1] [ii] [a] [11]; Statute of Local Government § 10 [6], [7]; Town Law § 261" the Court found the ECL language and legislative history did not evidence an intent by the state legislature, either explicitly or by implication, to preempt local zoning authority to prohibit mining operations.

Therefore, the Court concluded: "respondents' decision to amend the Town's zoning ordinance to prohibit the activity of hydrofracking does not conflict with the Legislature's intent to ensure that, where oil or gas drilling occurs, the operations are as efficient and effective as possible."

-Steven Silverberg