4:22pm

Mon February 27, 2012
Gas Drilling

Second court favors fracking ban, appeals may be combined

In a decision released Friday, acting Supreme Court Justice Donald F. Cerio, Jr. ruled that the Town of Middlefield can ban oil and gas drilling within its borders.

The decision is virtually identical to one from earlier in the week in Tompkins County. In both cases, the judges decided that the state maintains control over "how" drilling can be done while local governments keep control of "where" it can happen.

Scott Kurkoski, a lawyer for the Middlefield landowner that challenged the town's law, says there will be an appeal.

"Most likely, the two cases [Middlefield and Dryden] will be combined and then brought to the Appellate Court," says Kurkoski.

The Middlefield case involved a landowner, Jennifer Huntington and her company, the Cooperstown Holstein Corporation, against the Town of Middlefield while the Dryden case was between the town and a drilling company, Anschutz Exploration Corporation.

Kurkoski added that there is also still room for a "takings" case against towns that ban drilling without compensation.

"There is still a long, long way to go before this is resolved," says Kurkoski.