State's highest court agrees to hear homerule cases

August 29, 2013

The challenges to local fracking bans in New York are a step closer to their last day in court. The state’s highest court agreed today to consider cases against the Towns of Dryden and Middlefield.

The plaintiffs had to apply to the Court of Appeals for the chance to appeal 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.”

The high-stakes cases will determine whether towns in New York State can use their zoning powers to keep frackers 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.