As like the many polls before it, voters remained split on whether New York should allow for the controversial hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, a Siena College poll today found.
Even in the Southern Tier, where most of drilling would take place, residents’ opinions were fractured, the poll found.
Voters statewide were evenly divided – 40 percent on each side – on whether the state Department of Environmental Protection should give regulatory approval for hydrofracking.
In the Southern Tier, the split was similar: 47 percent were supportive; 48 percent were opposed.
“With DEC expected to soon issue a decision on whether or not to allow fracking to move forward, voters across the state remain evenly divided, and voters in the Southern Tier—the area that makes up the majority of the Marcellus Shale in New York—are also evenly divided on the issue,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg in a statement.
The poll said that those opposed to fracking would have the strongest reaction if the drilling technique moved forward. Anti-fracking groups have protested regularly at the Capitol for years, contending that fracking would hurt the environment and contaminate the water supply.
If fracking moved forward, 88 percent of opponents would be upset, including 54 percent who would be very upset, the poll said. If fracking did not move ahead, 59 percent of supporters would be upset, including 20 percent who would be very upset.
The poll found that if DEC took a number of safety steps, voters’ support of fracking would increase.
But overall, the poll said found New Yorkers’ opinion on the issue has changed little. Last May, voters were split 37 percent to 36 percent.
Greenberg said the even divide puts Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a difficult position. The DEC is expected to decide later this month whether to move forward with the drilling.
“The governor is in a position that chief executives hate: making a decision on a controversial issue where voters are split down the middle, Greenberg said.
The poll was conducted Jan. 27-31, 2013 to 1,154 New York voters. It included 401 registered voters in the 14 counties of the Southern Tier. It has an overall margin of error of 3.7 percentage points and a margin of error of 5.3 percentage points for the Southern Tier sample.