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Guilderland lends support in home rule battle

Coming court battle could decide whether localities can keep out fracking

— The brief doesn’t oppose or support natural gas drilling itself, but argues in favor of home rule as a mechanism to regulate land use.

Norse energy claims an Environmental Conversation Law denying local laws ordinances “relating to the regulation of the oil, gas and solution mining industries” denies a town from banning natural gas drilling.

The Supreme Court previously defined “regulation” as “an authoritative rule dealing with details or procedures.” A local law pertaining to zoning usage, the brief claims, doesn’t relate to such details or procedures.

Runion said the Town Board banned natural gas drilling within the town as a proactive measure as technology develops to allow for local exploration.

“Our environmental council had done some research and analysis and they had sent a memo to the Town Board requesting we consider a ban on hydrofracking,” Runion said. “The environmental council described some areas (for possible hydraulic fracturing), while it wouldn’t be the first place to look, but as technology improves it could be an area that is impacted, so rather than wait … we thought it would be better to be proactive.”

Only a small portion of the town sits on the Marcellus Shale, a rich natural gas deposit, but Runion said is technology advances other types of shale deposits could be found in the town. Runion said the town’s ban will protect the town’s water supply and wells.

In June 2012, the Albany County Legislature passed a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing on county-owned land.

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