The Research Institute of Siena College is the latest sponsor of a New York voter opinion poll on hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. The college, located in Loudonville, released its latest poll on the subject last week.
The hydrofracking issue was included in the school’s monthly political issue poll and included a sampling of over 800 registered New York voters statewide. According to the poll, by a 51 percent to 33 percent margin, voters say they trust opponents of hydrofracking more than they trust supporters.
Opponents were defined as those with concerns that the method of gas extraction has not been fully studied and may pose risks to drinking water and the environment. Supporters were defined for voters as those who believe in its safety, and its ability to create new jobs and to supply needed energy.
Siena College Research Institute Pollster Steven Greenberg said a majority of voters in every region of the state “trust opponents of hydrofracking — who argue about the risks to the environment — rather than the supporters.”
Greenberg said the results largely followed political ties with “pluralities of Republicans and conservatives more likely to trust supporters.”
A total of 17 percent of voters said they either didn’t know whom to support, or had no opinion. Despite those numbers, by a 44 percent to 40 percent margin, more voters said they were in favor of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s July recommendation to allow hydrofracking (with limitations) in a large portion of the Marcellus Shale. Sixteen percent had no opinion.
“Throughout this process, DEC’s number one priority is to protect the state’s drinking water and environment in concert with exploring options to safely and efficiently extract the state’s natural gas,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a press release. “This will enable New York’s economy to benefit from this resource and the job opportunities that development is expected to bring.”
“We see that they are divided,” Greenberg said. “People are inclined to trust opponents but then they also decide to support the DEC. It may be because of the credibility the DEC has with some voters, but neither side has done a good job of winning over a majority of voters to their position.”
The poll found approximately two-thirds of upstate voters pay at least some attention to the debate while 24 percent reported they pay no attention to it. The school did a similar hydrofracking opinion poll in July, and the results of both can be seen at www.Siena.edu/SRI.
Greenberg said the July results were relatively similar with regard to a majority of voters trusting hydrofracking opposition.