DRYDEN, NY: The people of Dryden are jubilant that New York’s highest court has ruled that towns and villages statewide have the right to ban fracking https://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/Decisions/2014/Jun14/130-131opn14-Decision.pdf
Democracy works best when people interact with the government at the local level. While the State and Federal governments may not be willing or able to protect us from serious dangers, the most secure power for that protection often lies at the local level. In New York and other states, the right of home rule, including zoning ordinances that grow from that right, has, as proclaimed at state level, long provided the means for that protection.
Many recognize the importance of this case for New York State, the United States, and concerned communities around the globe. This ruling clarifies the ancient right of local residents to make the decisions about the livability of their homes and communities. Local communities everywhere should take heart from Dryden’s win: A small group can assert this right, encourage others to join them, take small first steps, get advice and help from people who have walked this road, and persevere toward victory.
Local citizens and local elected officials in New York State need no longer doubt whether they have the power to protect the locality. Indeed, as Dryden has demonstrated, they may be the only ones with the ability to provide that protection.This ruling reinforces our right to locally protect our air, land, water and communities.
Dryden resident and DRAC member Martha Ferger expresses it well: “This all started with house-to-house work in the dead of winter 2011, gathering signatures on a petition to our Town Board for a ban on fracking. We could not be more thrilled with this decision, and we thank EarthJustice especially for legal help with all three levels of court cases that have challenged our ban.”
Around the world, vocal activists and quiet residents alike have awaited this ruling. A member of the Frack Free Lancashire group sent us this message: “Solidarity with the people of the USA and the world who are having to stand up to this industry.”
Another friend calls out across the pond: “Respect to all of the towns and counties that have gone it alone and banned it. Shrewd move. If and when NY State bans fracking it will be a game changer for us. Hollering at folk that Bulgaria and France have banned fracking is one thing, but a state like New York in the home nation of fracking would be a different ball game.”
Yes, our goal is a statewide ban, because fracking and associated industrial activities cannot be done safely. Groups nationwide and globally can build on this victory to ban fracking and take back local control.
In New York, gutsy and smart people were not intimidated by energy industry tactics, notably two indomitable lawyers, Helen and David Slottje. They researched, and shared for free with
everyone, the legal and constitutional bases for a fracking ban ordinance. And now the constitutional right to make land-use decisions locally has held all the way up to the highest court of New York.
We thank Deborah Goldberg, managing attorney of EarthJustice, for representing Dryden pro bono in the appeals cases against us. She took on the adversary with matchless preparation and legal skill—and won.
Thank you to Dryden Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner and all members of the Dryden Town Board, who stood strong. Jason Leifer, Dryden Town board member who first sounded the alarm about fracking in Dryden, says, “Today’s ruling shows all of America that a committed group of citizens and public officials can stand together against fearful odds and successfully defend their homes, their way of life, and the environment against those who would harm them all in the name of profit.”
Thank you to all our friends and neighbors who have moved forward together with us in this process; thank you to the town boards across New York State who heeded the Slottjes and passed bans and moratoria; and to those who will be empowered by this ruling to act.
But we must stay vigilant – this is a fight forever.
- Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition (DRAC): https://draconline.wordpress.com/
- Shaleshock, the umbrella organization for antifracking groups and information flow across New York State and beyond: www.shaleshock.org
- Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, an independent science-based group: http://www.psehealthyenergy.org/ “provides a multi-disciplinary approach to identifying reasonable, healthy, and sustainable energy options for everyone.”
Helen and David Slottje (Community Environmental Defense Council, CEDC): http://www.cedclaw.org/