COOPERSTOWN — New Yorkers are evenly divided on the question of whether the Cuomo administration should permit hydraulic fracturing for shale gas — even in the counties where the controversial drilling technique could be employed, a new poll shows.
The Siena College survey found 47 percent of those living in the Southern Tier region to be supportive of hydrofracking, while 48 percent are opposed. Siena included Otsego, Delaware and Chenango counties in the region it defined as the Southern Tier.
A sampling of voters statewide showed a dead heat on the same question — 40 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed. Last month, the same pollsters showed the opposition with a slight edge, with 44 percent against horizontal shale drilling and 40 percent in favor of it.
Ellen Pope, director of the Cooperstown-based environmental group Otsego 2000, said Cuomo risks losing his core supporters if he sides with the gas industry and allows hydrofracking. As he eyes a possible run for the White House in 2016, he is trying to burnish his economic development credentials, and may be tempted to invited drillers into New York, she said.
“There is no question he is being torn in two different directions,” she said. “He’s in a tough position.”
Worcester Town Councilman Dave Parker, who is pro-drilling, said he has become increasingly disillusioned with Cuomo, contending New York is losing out on an economic windfall because of the governor’s hesitancy on the issue.
“The other side has no new facts and no new data to support its position,” said Parker, contending the opponents have failed to gain traction because the public is turned off by what he characterized as their absurd and boisterous publicity stunts. One such event, he said, occurred Monday, when drilling foes staged an Albany rally. Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, urged them to sign a “pledge of resistance” against hydrofacking.