Opponents of hydraulic fracturing in New York seem quite pleased this afternoon.
They have reason to be, if you take stock in public polling. The latest Siena College poll Monday found opposition to fracking in New York at an all-time high (45 percent) and support at an all-time low (37 percent), according to the survey.
For most poll questions, an eight-point difference isn’t much of a difference at all, especially when there’s a 3.4-percentage-point margin of error attached to it. But when it comes to shale-gas drilling, when New York polls have shown a split within the margin for much of the past four years, anti-fracking groups and environmentalists say momentum is building.
“By one of the widest margins yet, upstate residents oppose fracking by a lopsided 52-34 percent,” Katherine Nadeau, policy director for Environmental Advocates of New York, said in a statement. “The fracking industry has attempted to bully and coerce the state into fracking every step of the way, but their tactics have alienated the very people who would be impacted by their drilling.”
The poll comes at a time when there’s no indication from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration when a decision on whether to allow large-scale fracking may come down. Cuomo-appointed Health Commissioner Nirav Shah first said in January that his review of the technique—believed to be the last obstacle to a decision—would be completed within weeks.
Jim Smith, a spokesman for the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, said Cuomo should be more focused on the Southern Tier’s unemployment figures rather than polls. The gas-rich Marcellus Shale formations stretches across much of the Tier.
“New Yorkers should be concerned about this number: There are 15,300 people out of work in Broome, Tioga, Chemung and Steuben counties, where natural gas development would take place,” Smith said. “This isn’t a sample. This is reality. We should survey these people.”