A Tale of Two Polls: Does upstate want hydrofracking? (UPDATED x2)

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Does upstate New York favor — or oppose — hydrofracking for natural gas? It depends on the poll.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday found statewide opinion of fracking split, with 43 percent of New York voters in support and 42 percent opposed.

Regionally, the poll found greater support upstate — 48 percent — and the greatest opposition in New York City, with 48 percent of city voters opposing drilling.

Here’s the regional breakdown from Quinnipiac:

But a Siena poll released earlier this month came to different conclusions. The poll still found a significant statewide split on fracking — 44 percent opposed, 40 percent in favor — that was trending toward the opposition. The regional breakdown, however, found the opposite of the Quinnipiac survey when it comes to upstate.

Siena’s poll suggest the most opposition from fracking comes from upstate — with 51 percent of voters opposed. From the Jan. 17 Siena poll:

The poll questions, as you can see, have some differences. Quinnipiac gives background on the arguments in favor of fracking (economic benefit) and against it (environmental impact) before asking which comes closer to the voter’s point of view. Siena does not include similar background, but asks specifically whether the voter would favor allowing fracking “in parts of upstate New York.”

Why does it matter? The state’s portion of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation, which is targeted by the gas industry for fracking and shale-gas drilling, covers parts of more than 15 counties upstate. High-volume fracking has been on hold in New York since 2008, when the Department of Environmental Conservation first launched a technical review that continues today.

A plan floated last year would have limited large-scale fracking to five upstate counties near or along the Pennsylvania border, where the shale is believed to be richest.

UPDATE 2: Quinnipiac’s public-relations firm wrote in to point out the sample size in each poll. Quinnipiac surveyed 1,127 New York voters, while Siena polled 676.

UPDATE: After the jump, see reaction from shale-gas opponents and proponents:

New York State Petroleum Council Executive Director Karen Moreau:

“Today’s Quinnipiac poll demonstrates once again that Upstate New Yorkers have seen through the fear and scare tactics pushed by so-called environmentalists who have waged a four-year campaign of misinformation.

“Upstate needs jobs and New Yorkers know that safe natural gas development offers the best hope for the future, with 25,000 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs. It will provide millions in revenue for schools and local governments, save family farms and lift entire communities throughout the struggling Southern Tier.

“The facts are clear and we are confident Governor Cuomo will recognize them just as Upstate New Yorkers have. This is an issue of jobs and there is no question that the surest path to job creation upstate is safe natural gas development. It’s time to move forward.”

Alex Beauchamp of New Yorkers Against Fracking:

“New Yorkers don’t want to be poisoned, like the Pennsylvania fracking victims who visited Albany yesterday. After losing support from people who are opposed to the gun control measure, the last thing the Governor should do is go forward with something that roughly half the state vehemently opposes.”

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4 Comments

  1. There’s another significant difference in the way the questions were asked: Siena specifically mentions the term “hydrofracking”, while the Quinnipiac poll merely says “drilling”. That’s an important distinction. Drilling is a generic term that, depending on the particular methodology, may have a long history of relative environmental safety (or not); whereas fracking (a shorthand for hydraulic fracturing) is a very specific method of drilling that has a short and questionable history riddled with concerns about both the usage of and the potential impacts on water resources. So I’m not surprised when the results vary in the two polls. I bet if I asked the general public about whether they favored a generic economy boosting activity that might have an unspecified environmental impact, I’d probably get similar results to the Quinnipiac poll no matter what the specific activity was.

  2. Leland T. Snyder on

    Let me get this straight, a poll that does not say hydro-fracking, and talks economics, us suppose to be a poll that proves people want hydrofracking. Hell I might have said yes to that question. There is a BIG difference! What cow chips!

  3. I think it’s fairly obvious that fracking is a very bad, and dangerous idea. Unfortunately the corporations who are trying to cash in on the implementation of this technique are more than willing to spend a great deal of money selling this idea to the public. Every time I turn on a TV I see an ad touting gas companies.

  4. I support more jobs for the Texans and Oklahomans who will get the fracking jobs. The schnooks who sell their drilling rights will make a few pennies today and be stuck with a clean up bill later.

    Oh yes, the diners and motels will do a brisk business. And the strip joints and bars will be filled. Hookers will have more customers too.