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Central NY lawyer wins $175K environment prize

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 28, 2014 at 4:28 pm •  Published: April 28, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A central New York lawyer who helped dozens of communities across the state ban fracking for shale gas has been chosen for the $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize.

Ithaca lawyer Helen Slottje is among six recipients selected for the prize, which recognizes grass-roots activism around the globe. The San Francisco-based Goldman Environmental Foundation announced the winners on Monday.

Slottje received the award for helping communities fight shale gas development through zoning laws. The industry is fighting the bans in state court. After two lower state courts upheld the bans in the central New York towns of Dryden and Middlefield, the top-level Court of Appeals is expected to decide the issue later this summer.

Slottje, who has offered her services to town governments for free, was nominated by the environmental group Earthjustice. Along with her husband, David, Slottje has helped pave the way for more than 170 communities in New York to take action against gas drilling.

New York has not allowed shale gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, since it began an environmental review in 2008. Dozens of communities have enacted moratoriums or bans in case the state starts permitting drilling using fracking, which pumps chemicals and water underground to break open shale rock formations.

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