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.”