By Dan Wiessner
ALBANY, New York | Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:39pm EST
(Reuters) - A New York state judge on Friday upheld an upstate community's ban on gas drilling, marking the second victory this week for opponents of the drilling method known as fracking.
The authority vested in towns and cities in New York to regulate use of their land extends to prohibitions on drilling, acting state Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio ruled on Friday, dismissing arguments by a landowner who had already sold leases on almost 400 acres.
"Municipalities are not preempted ... from enacting local zoning ordinances which may prohibit oil, gas and solution drilling or mining," Cerio wrote. "The state maintains control over the 'how' of (drilling) procedures while the municipalities maintain control over the 'where.'"
Jennifer Huntington, a dairy farmer, argued the town of Middlefield's ban was pre-empted by a state law designed to create a uniform regulatory scheme for the oil and gas industry. Cerio disagreed, holding that nothing in the legislative history of the law and its numerous amendments suggested state lawmakers intended to stop towns from barring heavy industry.