Wednesday, February 22, 2012

NY Court Upholds Zoning Ordinance Prohibiting Natural Gas Operations

On February 21, the New York Supreme Court, County of Tompkins, granted summary judgment for the Town of Dryden in the case of Anschutz Exploration Corp. v. Town of Dryden.  In this case, Anschutz challenged Dryden’s zoning ordinance that prohibited all activities related to the exploration, production and storage or natural gas and petroleum.  Anschutz argued that the zoning ordinance was preempted by the New York Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML).  The OGSML provides that it “shall supersede all local laws or ordinances relating to the regulation of the oil, gas and solution mining industries…”  The court read this provision as only preempting ordinances relating to the regulation of oil and gas industry operations while not preempting local land use regulations.  Therefore, the court granted the Town’s motion for summary judgment concerning preemption of the zoning ordinance by the OGSML.  The Dryden zoning ordinance also contained a provision that indicated any “permit issued by any local, state or federal agency, commission or board” that would violate the zoning ordinance would be invalid in the Town.  The court stated that the Town did not have the power to invalidate permits issued by other government entities and this provision was preempted by the OGSML because it was directly related to the regulation of oil and gas operations because it may cover New York Department of Environment Conservation permits related to oil and gas operations.  Therefore, the court struck this provision from the zoning ordinance while allowing the remainder of the zoning ordinance to remain.

Click here to read the opinion

Written by Dan McGraw, Research Assistant
February 22, 2012

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