The First Amendment has been dragged into New York’s intense debate over fracking.

The small town of Sanford, N.Y., was sued Tuesday by two leading environmental groups following a resolution passed by city officials last year that prohibited residents from talking about fracking at town council meetings.

That rule and its free speech implications prompted the lawsuit from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, which argue that town leaders want to see fracking in upstate New York and are attempting to muzzle those who disagree.

Both groups have been outspoken in their opposition to fracking, the controversial oil and natural gas extraction method that has been used successfully in neighboring Pennsylvania and other states.

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