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A new ruling has given US towns the power to ban fracking within municipal borders, it has been revealed.

The New York Court of Appeals has helped to set a new precedent by ruling that the towns of Dryden and Middlefield can use local zoning laws to ban heavy industry, including oil and gas production, within municipal borders.

Many other cities and towns in New York had been waiting for the decision to establish bans or moratoriums of their own.

This judgement means that the 170 New York municipalities that have banned fracking, now have legal authority to do so.

The decision is likely to inspire a growing number of localities in Colorado, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania and California that are also hoping to stop fracking in their areas.

Commenting on the case, Helen Slottje, an Ithaca-based attorney, said: “Town by town, New Yorkers have taken a stand against fracking. Today’s victory confirms that each of these towns is on firm legal ground. The oil and gas industry tried to take away a fundamental right that pre-dates even the Declaration of Independence: the right of municipalities to regulate local land use. But they failed. The anti-fracking measures passed by Dryden, Middlefield and dozens of other New York municipalities are fully enforceable.”

It has also been revealed that over 20,000 people from around the world sent messages to the town board, expressing support for the town through the course of a case that has been ongoing for nearly three years.

Deborah Goldberg, managing attorney at Earthjustice, said: “For too long the oil and gas industry has intimidated and abused people, expecting to get away with it. That behaviour is finally coming back to haunt them, as communities across the country stand up and say ‘no more.’ Earthjustice is proud to have stood with, and fought on behalf of, one such community.”

The outcome of the case serve to stand as a stark reminder of just what can be achieved when communities group together and fight back against corporations and harmful organisations.

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