The case, closely watched by the energy industry, may invigorate local challenges to fracking in other states and convince the industry to stay out of New York even if Cuomo allows drilling. Pennsylvania's highest court issued a similar ruling last year, striking down portions of a state law limiting localities' ability to regulate drillers.
"This sends a really strong and clear message to the gas companies who have tried to buy their way into the state that these community concerns have to be addressed," Katherine Nadeau, policy director for Environmental Advocates of New York, an anti-fracking group, said in a phone interview. "This will empower more communities nationwide."
The ruling may lead the oil and gas companies to further abandon efforts to extract gas in New York, said Thomas West, an attorney for Norse Energy, one of the companies in the case.