Three years ago, the multibillion-dollar Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp., which helped make its founder Philip Anschutz one of the richest men in America, filed a lawsuit against Dryden, a small town in upstate New York.
The issue: Dryden was sitting on top of some of the best shale gas prospects in the country, and Anschutz had bought a substantial number of leases giving it the right to drill there. But in August that year, Dryden — like towns across the country seeking to restrain the rush to drill for shale oil — had banned the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling known as fracking. It did this by adopting new language for its zoning laws and by citing road use regulations, noise limits and the need to protect 31 “critical environmental areas.”
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