Attorney Tom West has formally appealed two watershed state Supreme Court decisions that upheld local hydrofracking bans in the towns of Dryden and Middlefield.

The Dryden (Tompkins County) case was initial brought by brought by an oil and gas company, the Middlefield (Otsego County) case by Jennifer Huntington, a dairy farmer and president of Cooperstown Holstein Corporation. Both cases, which essentially held that state law regulating gas drilling does not take away a town’s right to enact zoning, were initially decided in February.

Appeals were expected, so the news that they are now formally in motion does not come as a surprise.

West said the records on appeal, appellate briefs and fees for the appeals were filed in both cases yesterday in the Appellate Division, Third Department.

Since the Dryden and Middlefield decisions, the city of Binghamton saw its moratorium struck down by a judge who argued that it was premature because the state hasn’t yet made a decision about whether to allow the controversial natural gas drilling process in the Marcellus – and eventually perhaps the Utica – shales.

There has been some question as to who would be paying for these appeals. I asked West about that, and this was his response:

“There is very little funding for these appeals. In fact, although one operator has pledged a small amount, we have not been paid yet. Although this issue is critical to industry, the lack of funding is directly related to the apathy towards New York based upon the low commodity pricing and the high degree of regulatory uncertainty.”

“Even in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, which does not have any liquid fractions, most operators have substantially curtailed their operations or mothballed their drilling operations until the commodity price increases. I believe that I read somewhere that the rig count in the US is the lowest in 10 years.”

So, in other words, West is appealing without getting paid? “Yes,” he said.

The pertinent paperwork appears below.

20121012 FINAL Preemption Appellate Brief (Cooperstown v. Middlefield)

20121015 FINAL Dryden Brief (Appellate)