by Jeremy Moule
A state Supreme Court justice has struck down the City of Binghamton's moratorium on fracking and related activities, reports the New York Times. But the same judge also affirmed that communities have the right to exclude drilling activities through zoning laws.
The New York Times quotes state Supreme Court Justice Ferris Lebous's decision, which according to the article says that state law “does not supersede local government’s rights to regulate the use of lands within their jurisdiction.” Binghamton's law, however, relies on the premise that the city is acting to protect the health and welfare of its residents. The judge's decision says that the moratorium didn't invoke zoning laws.
Communities across the state — and not just in areas where fracking is anticipated — have passed moratoriums. Some have opted to use zoning laws to exclude natural gas and oil exploration as a whole, and so far those laws have held up in court.
The City of Rochester and several Monroe County towns, including Brighton, Penfield, Perinton, and Mendon have passed moratoriums on fracking. Those temporary bans are largely symbolic, though proponents point out that Monroe County sits on top of the Utica Shale formation, which is believed to hold significant natural gas supplies.