Gas drilling showdown in Madison County courtroom

A court showdown is set to take place in the Madison County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon over whether localities have a right to ban natural gas drilling.

State Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio will hear arguments regarding the first lawsuit filed in New York State over this controversial and divisive issue. The suit was brought by Otsego County dairy farmer Jennifer Huntington who signed a lease with a gas drilling company. The Town of Middlefield however enacted a ban on drilling similar to bans taking place across New York State.

The lawyer for Huntington is expected to claim that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has sole jurisdiction over gas drilling, while Middlefield will claim that municipalities should have the ability to restrict such practices within their boundaries.

The ultimate ruling could have far reaching effects on hundreds of landowners and some 20 communities that have adopted bans or moratoriums on gas drilling in the Marcellus shale formation which covers much of Central and Southern New York State.

Which side do you support? Should municipalities have the right to overrule State regulations? Should landowners be barred from taking advantage of gas drilling by localities?