NY Local Governments Not Allowed to Ban Marcellus Drilling by State Law

Local governments in New York State that pass zoning ordinances to restrict or prohibit hydraulic fracturing and drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica Shales may find their actions overturned in short order.

Attempts by government officials to zone the natural gas industry, beyond creating road use ordinances and determining real property taxes, is superseded by New York State Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Law, says a former director of mineral resources for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Gregory H. Sovas, president of XRM, LLC, and the primary author of amendments that were made to the law, was on hand in Norwich earlier this month to clarify that point for government officials attending a Chenango, Otsego, Delaware, Madison Regional Natural Gas Collaborative meeting.

Members of the Chenango County Natural Gas Advisory reviewed Sovas’ presentation this week and discussed moves in Otsego and Tompkins counties’ towns to ban the controversial hydraulic fracturing means of extraction. Most have forged ahead to regulate on their own while waiting more than three years for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to complete its regulations, which it began to do just yesterday.*

The recently enacted drilling ban in the Town of Barrington (in the Finger Lakes region), along with the Towns of Milo and Jerusalem (see MDN story here) will likely not stand.

*Norwich The Evening Sun (Jul 1, 2011) – Evolving zoning laws to ban drilling subject to supercedure by state law