A Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll released late Wednesday showed 51 percent of voters in the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley oppose hydrofracking.
In survey after survey, New Yorkers have been 50-50 on the gas extraction process hydraulic fracturing, which is on hold under a de facto moratorium.
Don Levy is Director of Siena College Research Institute: "When you look across the entire state of New York we see that voters are evenly divided. A different scenario here in the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley. Right now we find that a majority, 51 percent of the voters we spoke to say that right now they're opposed to hydrofracking moving forward, only 35 percent in favor. So, a really clear majority on an issue that statewide, has really been a toss-up. So a difference of opinion amongst those voters who live very close to where fracking is proposed to take place."
Travis Proulx is communications director with Environmental Advocates of New York: "Basically you have residents here in New York saying 'No thanks, we don't want it, we don't need it. Fracking is not welcome here.’"
The online Marcellus Drilling News accuses Siena of providing "cherry-picked polling results" to appeal to anti-frackers, based on Siena excluding responses from Chenango and Steuben counties while including anti-drilling counties like Tompkins, Schuyler and Wayne.
Proulx accuses the gas industry of employing bully tactics to force fracking upon New York. "The industry has spent literally millions of dollars, not only to bully the state into a decision by trying to force lawsuits, by trying it undermine Governor Cuomo by trying to put state legislators into a corner, but also literally to employ this entire propaganda machine by making New Yorkers think that there is going to be this magical economic windfall if we allow fracking in New York. But because New York has taken its time, and has taken a cautious approach, we've been able to learn from other states."
Consideration to allow the controversial gas-extraction method has been on "pause" in New York since 2008, awaiting completion of a review of health and environmental impacts by the Cuomo administration.
The Time Warner/Siena poll found that 42 percent of respondents feel it’s important to collect natural gas found below ground. Sixty percent feel fracking runs the unacceptable risk of contaminating ground water. Fifty-two percent believe fracking in the Southern Tier would generate economic activity: 55 percent think it will generate jobs. Again, Don Levy: "If you only talk about jobs and economic benefit people nod their head. But when you say 'Is the risk worth it?' right now the folks who live in those two regions are saying it is not worth it."
Brad Gill, Executive Director of The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, did not return calls for comment.
The Time Warner Cable News/Siena College Poll was drawn from polling conducted July 20 – 23, 2014 by telephone calls to 816 registered voters from the three upstate New York regions of the Capital Region, the Catskills/Hudson Valley Region and the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes Region. Questions in this release were only asked of voters from the Catskills/Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes (n=544). It has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points for the composite overall area and margins of error for the individual regions of +/- 5.9 Catskills/Hudson and +/- 6.0 Southern Tier/Finger Lakes. Data was statistically adjusted by age, gender and party to ensure representativeness. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in New York State. SRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. For survey cross-tabs and frequencies: www.Siena.edu/SRI/SNY.
Catskills/Hudson Valley – Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties
Southern Tier/Finger Lakes – Broome, Chemung, Schuyler, Seneca, Tioga, Tompkins and Wayne Counties*