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Jun 30, 9:08 AM EDT

New York's top court upholds local bans on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York's top court has ruled that local officials can approve zoning laws to ban hydraulic fracturing within their borders.

The state Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed a lower court ruling that state oil and gas law doesn't trump the authority of local governments to control land use.

The two "fracking" cases have been closely watched by drillers hoping to tap into New York's piece of the Marcellus Shale formation and by environmentalists.

Drilling opponents say more than 170 towns have passed bans or moratoriums.

A statewide moratorium on fracking has been in effect since July 2008. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he won't decide whether to lift the ban until a health impact review launched in 2012 is completed. There's no timetable for the review.

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