On June 30, 2014, the New York Court of Appeals issued its decision to uphold local oil and gas development bans in the companion cases of Wallach v. Town of Dryden et al., No. 130 (slip copy) (N.Y. June 30, 2014), and Cooperstown Holstein Corporation v. Town of Middlefield, No. 131 (slip copy) (N.Y. June 30, 2014). The decision is the most recent in the struggle between states and local governments for control over the regulation of oil and gas operations. Although the decision will likely have a very limited impact on current oil and gas production in New York—where a moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing has already stymied oil and gas operations—many are concerned that it may have the potential to play a role in determining the balance of power between states and local governments nationwide. While those opposed to oil and gas development certainly have their sights on other producing states, the decision has little practical impact outside of New York. This article comments on the New York Court of Appeals’ recent decision and the current state of regulations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, Colorado, and California. The highly developed jurisprudence of states like Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma deserve their own treatment and are outside the scope of these comments.
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