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Joint Landowners Coalition of N.Y. sues state

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Joint Landowners Coalition of N.Y. sues state
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One group is taking action after growing tired of being kept in the dark about whether or not natural gas drilling will be allowed in New York state. As our Elyse Mickalonis explains the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York filed a lawsuit Friday but it’s not one that everyone is in favor of.

NEW YORK STATE -- Frustrated with the state stalling on a decision about hydrofracking, the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York is taking legal action.

"This money is coming from landowners, our members, we’ve gotten some money that came in from landowners from out of state that are helping us with this fight for our rights,” said Dan Fitzsimmons, Joint Landowners Coalition of New York President.

The coalition filed suit against Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state and the commissioners of the Health and Environmental Conservation Department on Friday.

But not everyone agrees with their move.

"This really is a frivolous suit. It’s a desperate attempt to draw some attention. We don’t think it’s going to go anywhere. This is in the face of a growing body of science that says fracking isn’t safe,” said Isaac Silberman-Gorn, Citizen Action Environmental Organizer.

But the coalition argues that fracking can be done safely. They say under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, the state has to move the process along, but instead it has been stalled. They say the delay has hurt property owners who sold drilling rights to their land because of what they call the state’s failure to complete the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement. But opponents say that’s not the case.

"They have taken the angle of a takings suit before. In order for that to happen, the land has to be rendered valueless which it hasn’t. The gas is not going anywhere,” said Silberman-Gorn.

Kurkoski said, "The state has been at this process for more than half a decade and they're not getting it done. We've gone through two governments and there is no end in sight. We felt compelled to move the state along and get them to follow the law and that's all we're really asking, is for the state to follow the State Environmental Quality Review Act."

Kurkoski says they’ve asked the court to schedule the motion for March 7.

The coalition is being represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation and Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLP in Vestal.

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