Lawmakers, lobbyists and state regulators have hinted since April that a community's viewpoint on hydraulic fracturing could be taken into account when deciding where to drill for gas.

It has prompted a burst of municipal activity. Town boards across New York's Southern Tier have been deluged with requests from some to ban gas drilling, and from others to pass a resolution expressing support for it.

But what happens when members of the town boards own land and could stand to profit by leasing their gas rights?

Many municipal officials in small towns within the gas-rich Marcellus Shale own land, belong to a landowner coalition or have already leased their mineral rights. While several defended their right to vote on matters regarding hydrofracking, critics say they have an undeniable conflict of interest.

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