The state's highest court is weighing in on the controversial process of natural gas drilling known as hydro-fracking, saying that local municipalities can decide to ban it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has yet to even make a decision about whether to allow the procedure to move forward in New York State, however. The governor held a Manhattan fundraiser Monday evening. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
In a five to two ruling, New York's Court of Appeals upheld the rights of individual municipalities to ban the controversial gas extraction procedure known as "fracking."
"From a public health standpoint, this ruling is really good news. It affirms the right of communities to protect themselves against pollution and contamination and mass industrialization caused by fracking," says Sandra Steingraber of New Yorkers Against Fracking.
According to New Yorkers Against Fracking, nearly 200 local communities across the state have passed local ordinances either banning fracking outright, or imposing some kind of moratorium.
The state court now recognizes their actions, but have stopped short of ruling on the merits of the drilling procedure.
"The decision was exactly what we thought it was going to be. Right? It was in line with the lower court rulings. I don't think anybody expected them to rule on fracking itself. Ultimately, we all know that decision lies with the administration," says Alex Beauchamp of Food and Water Watch.
Governor Andrew Cuomo must approve of fracking in order for it to go forward anywhere in New York State, however.
His health department is currently conducting a review that critics have called "open ended." His health commissioner recently resigned before that review was complete.
"This is Cuomo and politics, and meanwhile, he says New York is open for business and he has closed it down to one of the most innovative businesses which is going forward in 30 other states and is supported both by the [Environmental Protection Agency] and the Obama Administration," says State Republican Chairman Ed Cox.
"Well, Governor Cuomo has said the he is going to let the science decide, and we are taking him at his word. The problem is that fracking rolled across the landscape before the science could get done," Steingraber says.
Anti-fracking protesters descended on midtown because of Cuomo's nearby fundraiser, where guests paid up to $25,000 per table with a minimum payment of $1,000 for a ticket.
Governor Cuomo has indicated he would make a decision on fracking before the November election but skeptics aren't so sure.