New York Town Repeals Fracking Gag Order After Free Speech Lawsuit

NEW YORK (April 17, 2013) – The Town Board of Sanford, NY, has repealed the gag order it passed last summer on discussing fracking at their meetings, following a First Amendment lawsuit filed in February by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy. As a result, the groups are dropping their Freedom of Speech lawsuit today.

Statements follow from NRDC and CCSE:

“The people of Sanford will no longer be silenced. With this action, the Town Board has rightly recognized the validity of residents’ concerns about this controversial heavy industrial activity moving into their backyards, and the need for their local representatives to hear them. This is especially important in light of the board’s history of support for fracking. This is a vindication of the right to free speech. And it sends a message to communities everywhere. As Americans, we have the right to speak up when we feel threatened. And it is our government’s responsibility to listen.” –Kate Sinding, Director of the Community Fracking Defense Project at NRDC.

“We are gratified that Sanford dropped its unconstitutional ban on free speech. It's unfortunate that it required litigation to re-establish this fundamental right for the citizens of Sanford, but by rescinding the ban now, the Town Board at least spared the taxpayers the expense of a protracted and costly lawsuit.” –Tom Wilinsky of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

Background on the lawsuit here: