Local residents and elected leaders in Dryden, N.Y. are celebrating victory today in a closely watched case over local fracking bans. A state appeals court ruled in favor of the towns of Dryden and Middlefield, affirming lower court decisions upholding the towns’ right to ban oil and gas development activities—including the controversial technique of fracking—within town limits. The legal battle first began in 2011, and industry is widely expected to seek review of the ruling by New York’s high court (the Court of Appeals).
The case in Dryden has taken on special significance. More than 20,000 people from across the country and globe sent messages to Sumner and her colleagues on the Town Board, expressing support for the town in its legal fight.
Dryden’s story began in 2009, after residents pressured by oil and gas company representatives to lease their land for gas development learned more about fracking, the technique companies planned to use to extract the gas. During fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, companies inject millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the ground to break up rock deposits and force out the gas. Residents organized and educated for more than two years under the banner of the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition (DRAC), ultimately convincing the town board to amend its zoning ordinance in August 2011 to clarify that oil and gas development activities, including fracking, were prohibited.
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