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October 22, 2014
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Gas zoning could get NY court test
NEWYORK STATE — New York State law with regard to the ability of municipalities to zone natural gas drilling may soon get a test. The town of Middlefield, near Otsego Lake (Cooperstown’s water supply) recently moved to tighten its zoning laws to restrict gas drilling in certain areas, and leaseholders claiming it does not have the power to do so plan to sue. The case would be the first in New York to challenge the conventional wisdom that state law supersedes local ordinances with regard to where natural gas drilling is permitted, as championed by attorneys like Scott Kurkowski of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York State.

In Pennsylvania, however, which has a similar supersession clause to that in New York, courts have ruled that while towns cannot regulate how drilling is done, they can regulate where. New York law makes a similar distinction with regard to mining, and attorneys like Cooperstown attorney Michelle Kennedy say that New York’s laws should also be construed to give towns authority to prohibit drilling in certain locations. The Albany law firm of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna LLP has also pointed out that the New York constitution requires that any laws that impair the authority of local government must be passed in two separate legislative sessions, which is not the case with regard to the law in question.

Water Aid at Cooper Union

NEW YORK, NY — The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design will host Water Aid, a multi-media event celebrating the importance of water and those who work to preserve it, on Thursday, April 14, from 7 to 9 p.m. in The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 East 7th St. It will feature the first annual Service to Sustainability Awards, recognizing the people and organizations who facilitate the adaptation of sustainability. This year journalist Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!; Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers; and artist and activist Yoko Ono will be honored for their commitment and leadership in helping to preserve the three percent of fresh water that sustains life on earth.