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Small Town Wins Court Battle Against Billionaire-Headed Oil and Gas Company

Environmental law experts pledge to defend any challenges to the ruling
February 21, 2012
Dryden, NY —

A judge ruled today in favor of small town in upstate New York defending its way of life against a lawsuit brought by a billionaire-headed oil and gas company.

In September, the privately-held Anschutz Exploration Corporation, owned by Forbes-ranked Phillip Anshutz (net worth: $7.5 billion), sued the town of Dryden (population: 14,435) in a bid to force the town to accept industrial gas drilling within town limits, including the controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the ground to force out gas.

The company brought its lawsuit after the Dryden Town Board approved a change to its zoning ordinance that would prohibit oil and gas activities in the town. The unanimous, bipartisan vote followed a petition drive and a series of public hearings, in which residents spoke out 3 to 1 in favor of the change.

The following is a statement by Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg:

"We’re heartened by today’s ruling. The people of Dryden stood up to defend their way of life against the oil and gas industry. And, against stiff odds, they won. Today’s ruling makes clear that local officials have the right to decide what industrial activities are appropriate within their communities. The people of Dryden know what’s best for their town. Not an out-of-state Forbes-ranked billionaire."



Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 797-5235