Fracking

New York Court Hears Fracking Debate

Case over whether individual towns have the authority to ban the process

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Backers of natural gas drilling and environmental advocates wrangled Thursday over whether New York's towns have the legal right to ban oil and gas development in a fight that could ultimately be decided by the state's highest court.

A four-judge appellate panel heard arguments over the local bans in Dryden and Middlefield, two central New York towns among dozens in the state that have passed zoning laws prohibiting drilling. Opponents argue state rules supersede such local restrictions.

The Dryden law is being challenged by drilling company Norse Energy and the Middlefield ban by a dairy farmer who said the town's action prevents her from making money from gas wells that had been planned for her land.

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