But you knew that

Gas company to sue over town's drilling ban.  Update: here is the link to the same story at the IJ

Anschutz Exploration Corp. plans to file a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Tompkins County to have the ban struck down in the town of Dryden, according to the company’s Albany-based attorney, Thomas West. He said he expected the lawsuit would be filed this week.

With the state moving toward allowing high-volume hydraulic fracturing, Dryden has been one of a handful of municipalities across the state that have altered their zoning regulations or passed legislation meant to ban the activity.

Read it all.  (h/t South)


Key question for you legal eagles: Anschutz holds many oil and gas leases in Dryden, which it originally compiled in pursuit of drilling in Trenton-Black River, a conventional limestone target (though sometimes drilled horizontally). Since all this got started before the controversy surrounding unconventional shale gas, and long before Dryden's drill ban, and since Anschutz's leases would have to be viewed as now worthless if the drill ban stands, isn't this a pretty clear-cut taking of a property right?

Well, this is good news! They banned it in my town, or at least put out a moratorium. Not that they needed to, as there isn't enough gas under us to bother drilling. I guess it was just the politically correct thing to do.

Before you get to the question of whether it is a taking subject to compensation, the issue of the validity of the zoning has to be considered. Call this phase 1. If a ban, passed as a zoning act, is set aside by a court, there is no compensation for the temporary loss of drilling rights, the only remedy is to set aside the zoning. If however the ban under zoning is upheld by a court, then you can reach the taking without compensation issue. Call this phase 2. If you reach phase 2, proving and valuing a taking is complex but could involve many millions or even billions of dollars. And then there is the question of who is paying for the litigation. Without a financial reward possible in phase 1, overturning the ban, someone must pay for counsel, no contingent fees.