ALBANY, N.Y (WIVB) – The state’s highest court settled a lengthy legal battle over hydrofracking Monday, ruling that communities do have the legal right to ban the process.
RELATED | Read more on the decision here
It’s a victory for those hoping to keep fracking out of the state, like East Aurora Attorney Arthur Giacalone.
He said, “Neither municipal attorneys or elected officials can now say let’s wait until we have this legal issue clarified because it’s clear now.”
Fracking forces chemical-laced water into deep rock deposits to free natural gas.
As the state health department studies potential health effects, fracking is banned in New York. However, more than 100 towns in the state are preemptively changing their zoning laws in case the practice is eventually allowed,
Congressman Chris Collins agrees the bans should be legal but supports fracking coming to New York.
He told News 4, “I think if a town were to do that I think they are being shortsighted and foregoing economic development and jobs you know for their own municipal tax base.”
In a statement to News 4, the New York State Petroleum Council called the decision a “real tragedy for thousands of farmers and people in communities that would have realized the economic benefits that oil and gas development can deliver.”
Executive Director Karen Moreau said many of those communities are in the southern tier and many are still interested in bringing fracking there.
Opponents believe as more communities change their zoning laws, the state will become less appealing.
“They’re going to have to closely decide whether it’s worth investing in infrastructure and all the other expenses in the state of New York given that they may be facing a patchwork of municipal laws,” Moreau said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has not decided on whether he supports lifting the moratorium in the state.
There is also no word from the state health department on when their study will be complete.