NY fracking opponents focus efforts on local bans

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- As state environmental regulators finish a review of shale gas drilling in New York, opponents of gas well "fracking" are taking a local approach, enacting zoning and planning laws that ban the practice.

This "home rule" tactic will be a focus of environmental groups in the legislative session that begins Wednesday with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state-of-the-state address.

Sen. James Seward, an Oneonta Republican, is co-sponsoring legislation to give local governments veto power over natural gas drilling. He also wants the Department of Environmental to address home rule authority in proposed regulations.

The DEC is taking public comment until Jan. 11. Permitting for new gas wells has been on hold since the agency began the review in 2008, and will remain frozen until regulations are finalized, possibly this year.

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