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Silver bullet or long shot? 'Takings' challenges to drilling regs face iffy fate

To Scott Kurkoski, the problem is obvious. New Yorkers expected to reap a profit on natural gas buried in the Marcellus Shale. Government officials got in the way, and now landowners want compensation. "It's a basic property rights issue," Kurkoski said. "Here we have people who are prepared to develop their oil and gas, and the government is telling them they can't do it. That's a basic constitutional protection in the United States." Kurkoski is an upstate New York lawyer who for years has represented landowners who want the state to lift its six-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. If state and local regulators don't budge, the landowners say the restrictions amount to a regulatory taking, and the government must pay for their lost economic opportunity.

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