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Appeals Court: Towns can ban fracking

ALBANY -- A major development in the fight over fracking in New York.  An appeals court rules that towns have the power to ban the controversial method of drilling for natural gas before New York State finalizes any of its own regulations!

The cases against two towns set a precedent for any others in the state to regulate high-volume hydraulic fracturing.  The appellate panel said bans on drilling in Dryden and Middlefield stand.

Jennifer Huntington filed the lawsuit against the Town of Middlefield in Otsego County.  The town's ban would have prevented anyone from drilling for natural gas on Huntington's land.

This week CBS6 visited her dairy farm which had been leased for gas development for five years.

She wanted the money from drilling to invest in her farm and envisioned the natural gas harnessed there to be used in the community.  Huntington wanted clarification on who had the right to allow drilling on the land, and we asked what impact she imagined if the appeals court ruled in the town's favor.

"We're missing a great opportunity to help the state and to help farmers and to help all communities," Huntington said.  "You have to keep looking forward and seeing different ways that make us less dependent on foreign oil."

Middlefield Neighbors is a group which supported the ban.  It lauded the ruling, noting claims that the fracking process pollutes air and water.  Its founding member said in a statement, "the real solution to this problem is for the state to ban fracking, but until that happens, local governments have a responsibility to protect their citizens from the oil and gas industry."
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