Vox Populi

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‘Watershed Moment’ for Fracking Foes?

Opponents of fracking are feeling emboldened by a ruling in New York’s highest court that found towns can outlaw the controversial drilling practice.

Environmentalists are cheering the decision against hydraulic fracturing as a major step toward more local control over the natural gas production. Industry groups, on the other hand, fear the ruling could result in a patchwork of local rules that slow development of the booming energy source.

“I think it’s a really watershed moment for the movement,” said Deborah Goldberg, an attorney with Earthjustice who argued the New York case for one of the towns involved.

“People all over the country have been watching what’s been going on in New York, and what this says to them is that if you work with your neighbors and you educate yourself and you organize and you work with local government, you can stand up to industry and win.”

“We’re already seeing a nationwide trend of towns, cities and counties across the country taking their own fracking fate into their hands like this,” said Kate Kiely, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This ruling sets precedent that it will be protected in New York — and hopefully inspires other communities across the country to continue following suit.”

The gas industry fears the ruling will empower town council members to tie up drillers in red tape.

Watch Timothy Cama’s video report in The Hill here.

— contributed by J. Daniel Hull

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