New York's highest court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether municipalities can use local zoning laws to ban, within their borders, shale gas development that uses hydraulic fracturing.
The seven-member Court of Appeals was scheduled to hear arguments in two cases where a midlevel appellate court unanimously concluded last year that state mining law doesn't trump the authority of local governments to control land use. A decision is expected in late summer.
The challenges have been closely watched by an industry hoping to drill in New York's piece of the Marcellus Shale formation and by environmentalists who fear drilling could threaten water supplies and public health. The industry argues that allowing local bans will create a patchwork of regulation that will prevent effective extraction of gas resources. Most of the local bans, however, are outside the region where shale gas is most abundant: along the Pennsylvania border.