Brighton pursuing drilling ban

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The Town of Brighton is acting to make a temporary ban on natural gas and oil drilling within town limits, including fracking, permanent.

At 7 p.m. today, the Brighton Town Board will hold a public hearing on its proposed ban. Town Supervisor Bill Moehle says the board will probably vote on the proposed law at its January 23 meeting. That meeting is also at 7 p.m.

The law will forbid not just drilling, but also related activities, such as disposal of drilling wastes or the underground storage of gas or oil. Moehle says drilling and related activities are akin to heavy industrial activity, which is inconsistent with town zoning.

"The most intense zoning district we have in Brighton is light industrial," he says.

New York State officials are conducting an environmental review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in shale formations. To prevent fracking within their borders, many communities across the state have enacted categorical bans on all drilling and related support activities. In most cases, state courts have upheld the bans.

"If each of the towns do it, we have a ripple effect," says Judy Schwartz, a Brighton resident who supports the town's proposed ban.

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