Upstate New York voters are divided on the issue of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, with 44 percent favoring it and 42 opposing it, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this week.
Statewide — with suburban and New York City residents included — voters oppose fracking, 46 to 39 percent, the poll found. It is the first time since their polling on the issue began in August 2011 that a clear majority has opposed fracking, the pollsters said.
“People are now engaged in the whole process of fracking,” said Otsego County Rep. Beth Rosenthal, D-Cherry Valley. “They’re beginning to understand that there are many negative aspects of it, where before maybe they had heard about it or heard something about it or watched those pretty commercials on TV.”
Karen Moreau, executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council, a division of the American Petroleum Institute, painted the poll as a statement about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership rather than a setback for pro-fracking forces.
“There is ... a growing sense that the governor has allowed this issue to become mired in politics, despite claims he will let science decide,” she wrote in a media release about the poll. “Rather than leading, he appears to be letting the polls make his decisions. That isn’t leadership, and it is certainly not the Andrew Cuomo we knew and supported in the first two years of his term.”
The poll found that 21 percent of state voters think the governor is “carefully evaluating the issue of hydrofracking,” and 30 percent say he is “dragging his feet … to avoid making a decision.” However, 46 percent of respondents offered no opinion on that issue.
“I don’t know how Governor Cuomo is going to react,” said Dick Downey, who supports fracking and leads the Unatego Area Landowners Association. “Apparently, he is looking at polls and not science, and he may delay more.”