Norse Energy Corp. USA v. Town of Dryden

NY appellate court affirmed decision holding local zoning ordinances prohibiting oil and gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing are not preempted by state law (NY Court of Appeals)

U.S. Chamber's Position: 

In its coalition brief, the U.S. Chamber urged the New York Court of Appeals to reverse a decision by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, which upheld a trial court decision that concluded that New York's oil and gas law does not expressly preempt the town of Dryden’s oil and gas regulation. In this case, the town of Dryden enacted a complete prohibition on oil and gas drilling within its borders. In its amicus brief, the Chamber argued that Middlefield's zoning regulation is preempted by ECL § 23-0101 et seq. The Chamber warned that allowing Dryden's zoning regulation to stand would impede access to resources in a critical areas and leave important and highly technical regulatory matters to the judgment of thousands of local zoning authorities rather than in the NYSDEC as the legislature had intended.

Previously, the U.S. Chamber filed an amicus brief with the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division urging that court to reverse a judgment by the Supreme Court.

Joseph R. Guerra, Roger R. Martella, Jr.,  Samuel B. Boxerman, and Lowell Schiller of Sidley Austin LLP represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as co-counsel to the National Chamber Litigation Center.

This brief was filed jointly with the American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York.

Case Outcome: 

The New York Court of Appeals concluded that towns may ban oil and gas production activities, including hydrofracking, within municipal boundaries through the adoption of local zoning laws. The court reasoned that the supersession clause in the statewide Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) does not preempt the home rule authority vested in municipalities to regulate land use. Therefore orders of the Appellate Division were affirmed.

Previously, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division held that the local zoning ordinances were not preempted by state law.

Procedural History: 

 New York Court of Appeals Procedural History

Decided 6/30/2014.

Oral Argument held 6/3/2014.

U.S. Chamber amicus brief filed 4/18/2014.

Motion for Leave to Appeal Granted 8/29/13

U.S. Chamber amicus brief filed 6/14/13.

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division Procedural History

U.S. Chamber amicus brief filed 10/17/12. Decided 5/2/13.