Last week, formal appeals were filed in two state Supreme Court decisions that upheld local bans on natural gas drilling in the towns of Dryden (Tompkins County) and Middlefield (Otsego County).

These two cases – which appear to directly contradict the plain reading of the state law – were originally decided in February.

One could argue that these cases are not important, because of the de facto moratorium that New York State has imposed on natural gas development through hydraulic fracturing.  But to many New York-based drillers, especially smaller companies, these local bans have been drafted in a way that not only impacts their future drilling activity, but their current activity as well.

Let’s hope that the courts get it right this time, so that when the state finally begins issuing permits for this process, local governments will know exactly what their role in the process is under state law.