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Standing for the Rights of Local People: Earthjustice Success Story 7.7.14

July 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 


Happy Monday! Today we have a BIG SUCCESS to celebrate: this past week’s landmark victory of the rights of local people over the oil and gas industry.

This is the success story of a small town, Dryden, NY, that refused to surrender their community to exploitation by a powerful industry. They enlisted the legal help of USCAN member organization Earthjustice, and together fought for the rights of communities everywhere. The result: in the world of fracking, the tables have turned.







The Story

In 2007, the oil and gas industry began pressuring the people of the lovely little town of Dryden, NY to lease their land for fracking.  Representatives of the industry hounded them time and time again, telling them that even if they did not sign the lease, the company would drill anyway.  Instead of submitting, these residents came together. Local lawyers Helen and David Slottje combed through zoning laws, and found that, despite the industry’s assertions, municipalities legally had the right to keep oil and gas industry out. Neighbors spread awareness on the extensive dangers of fracking, gathered signatures, and presented petitions to the Dryden Town Board. Presented with the evidence and overwhelming public opposition, the bipartisan Board voted unanimously to ban fracking in Dryden. More than 170 other towns in New York followed suit!

Of course, the fracking industry wasn’t done yet. The billionaire-owned gas and oil company sued to overturn the ban. They lost, but then appealed, with ample funding to back them. This is where Earthjustice, a non-profit legal voice on the side of people and communities, stepped in to help. The fate of hundreds of towns rested on the precedent the case would set.


Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg


Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg used her 25 years of court experience to fight the good fight for Dryden in New York’s highest court. This past week, on June 30th, the Court of Appeals sided with Dryden and Earthjustice. New York municipalities have the right to use zoning laws to keep fracking out of their borders. With towns across the United States fighting for their rights against exploitation by the fossil fuel industry, this case sets an enormously important precedent.


Communities throughout the United States began to pass similar measures, including in the highlighted states. Shale basins—areas of potential fracking—are shaded in red. Clockwise from top: Citizens in Longmont, CO, call for fracking bans within city limits (photo by A rally in Dallas, TX (photo courtesy of Texas Campaign for the Environment). Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin speaks at a press conference after introducing a motion to place a moratorium on fracking within city limits (photo courtesy of Mike Bonin’s office).


(To hear more about this story, check out the wonderful official page here:


Wow! How about more info on these empowered folks at Earthjustice?


Since its founding in 1971, Earthjustice has been acting on behalf of the public and morality, “using the power of the law to defend our right to a healthy environment.” They have over 1000 clients, and 50+ victories per year.


They act to:

1) preserve the wild:

2)  fight for healthy communities:

3) and to advance clean energy and healthy climate


If you haven’t already, check out Earthjustice and give them some appreciation!




We are proud to have Earthjustice as a member of U.S. Climate Action Network, and look forward to their continued success on the right side of history!


This blog is about SUCCESS in the climate action network. Our network is composed of a wide and diverse array of organizations, united by a common goal of acting on climate change, coming together to produce immense positive results. THAT’S powerful. THAT’S worth sharing. The success stories featured here include a range of triumphs. Each story has one thing in common: a reason to feel optimistic.

Stay tuned for the next success story, coming up on July 12! #climatenetwork



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