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Anti-fracking activists sue N.Y. town for banning them from council meetings

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 15:10 EDT
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Opponents of natural gas fracturing in Sanford, New York filed a lawsuit Monday against the town council, alleging that officials silenced them in violation of their First Amendment rights.

The city, like many across the state, has become a hotbed of anti-fracking activism as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) debates whether to lift a statewide ban on the natural gas extraction technique, which scientists say can cause earthquakes and has led to polluted well water in some areas.

The council in Sanford was sued after members shut down public comment in September, following weeks of meetings packed with supporters and opponents of fracking, according to The Associated Press.

The council’s resolution to close public speaking time still allowed written comments to be submitted.

The lawsuit was filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

Despite opposition, a New York state study conducted in secret and leaked to the media in January declared that fracking is safe. Cuomo allegedly kept the report secret because he’s worried about “strident opposition on his party’s left,” according to a source who spoke to The New York Times.
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Photo: Flickr user Credo Action, creative commons licensed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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