Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 3:14:06 PM

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Anti-Frackers Respond to Lawsuit

One day after a landowners group said it has a lawsuit ready to file against the state because of its indecision over allowing fracking, those opposed to the drilling process call the suit a PR stunt.

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York plans to file a lawsuit against New York claiming the state is violating its Environmental Quality Review Act which requires agencies to complete reviews with minimum delay.

It also claims the delay is causing an unconstitutional taking of landowners mineral rights. Opponents say the fight isn't about land rights. If it was, they say, they would be against compulsory integration, which allows a gas company to take gas from an entire drilling unit as long as it has the majority of that unit under lease.

The gas company, though, has to compensate the unleased landowner for the gas. 

"I'd like to see them chat with the folks who stand to basically deal with the equivalent of eminent domain, compulsory integration, which gas companies can take people's land without their consent," said Isaac Silberman-Gorn of Citizen Action.

"This was really a last resort for landowners who have been at this for five years. We've seen other states being able to realize the benefits from drilling both in terms of economic benefits and environmental benefits. And yet our state is the only one in the country with this opportunity that is dragging its heels," said Scott Kurkoski, attorney for the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.

The landowners group will file the suit once it's fundraising efforts to support the suit are complete.

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