Gas company to sue Dryden over town's drilling ban

In what could be a precedent-setting case for municipalities statewide, a Denver-based natural-gas company will file the first lawsuit against a local drilling ban in New York, the company's attorney said Tuesday.

Anschutz Exploration Corp. plans to file a lawsuit this week in state Supreme Court in Tompkins County to have the town of Dryden's ban struck down, according to Thomas West, an Albany-based attorney representing the company.

With the state moving toward allowing high-volume hydraulic fracturing - a technique used with gas drilling - Dryden has been among more than 15 municipalities or counties across the state that have altered zoning regulations or passed legislation meant to ban the activity, either temporarily or permanently.

But state Department of Environmental Conservation Joseph Martens has said a court will likely have to decide whether those bans hold up under state law. New York's environmental conservation law includes a two-sentence clause adopted in the 1980s giving the state power to regulate the oil and gas industry, though it allows municipalities to regulate the industry's use of their roads.

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