In a case that’s considered a key test in the battle over gas drilling in upstate New York, a Supreme Court judge has upheld the Town of Dryden’s ban on drilling within its borders.

Justice Phillip Rumsey of the New York State Supreme Court, Tompkins County, ruled Tuesday in favor of Dryden, which was sued by Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp.

Dryden officials - in an attempt to prevent heavy industrial activity due to gas drilling and the process of high-volume hydraulic fracturing - changed the town’s zoning laws to prohibit drilling and related activities.

Anschutz, which says it has 22,000 acres under lease and has already invested $5 million in Dryden, challenged the ban.

Under state law, only the Department of Environmental Conservation can regulate drilling. At issue is whether municipalities have the right to ban drilling through local ordinances under the concept known as home rule.

The Dryden case is the first ruling on the matter. Rumsey’s decision may be appealed to a higher court.

Dozens of municipalities across New York have either passed or are considering drilling bans.


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