Court rules towns can ban oil and gas drilling, production

By Candace Chapman

Court rules towns can ban oil and gas drilling, production

May 2, 2013 Updated May 2, 2013 at 12:15 PM EST

Albany, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Town of Dryden was within its rights to establish a zoning ordinance banning natural gas and petroleum exploration, production and storage.

A New York Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled on the challenge brought by Norse Energy Corporation.  In February 2012, State Supreme Court Judge Phillip Rumsey ruled certain amendments the Town of Dryden made to its zoning ordinance are not preempted by the state's Oil, Gas and Solutions Mining Law.

Norse Energy appealed the ruling. A clause in the OGSML states its provisions supersede all local laws and ordinances relating to the regulation of oil, gas and solutions mining industries. The appeals court wrote regulation is commonly defined as "an authoritative rule dealing with details or procedure."

In rejecting the company's appeal, the court found the zoning ordinance does not seek to regulate, and that the ordinance establishes permissible and prohibited uses of land with in the Town. The court also rejected the argument that municipal zoning ordinances that in effect ban drilling conflict with the policies of the OGSML.

According the ruling "There is nothing in the statute or its legislative history suggesting, as the petitioner does, that it is the policy of this state to "maximize recovery " of oil and gas resources at the expense of municipal land use decision making." The appeals court found the Town of Dryden's ordinance did not conflict with the legislature's intent to ensure where oil and gas drilling occurs it is done as efficiently and effectively as possibly.