By Karen Frantz
A state senator from Queens cheered a poll released last week showing that for the first time New Yorkers are opposed to hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale by a clear margin.
Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), a longtime opponent of the natural gas drilling method and ranking minority member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said the poll showed a grassroots movement against hydrofracking is resonating in New York.
“The bottom line is that hydrofracking is an extremely dangerous drilling practice and cannot be allowed in this state,” he said.
He said other states that allow drilling have experienced contaminated water, increased seismic activity, crumbling infrastructure and lower property values.
Hydrofracking is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock by blasting a mix of water and chemicals at high pressure into underground wells.
“It is clear from this poll that New Yorkers are sending a message that we cannot allow the same thing to happen to our state,” he said.
The Quinnipiac University poll, released March 20, found 46 percent of people in the state oppose drilling, while 39 percent support it.
But the New York State Petroleum Council dismissed the results of the poll, saying that New York City voters, who are more strongly against drilling, unduly influenced the results.
“As we read today’s Quinnipiac poll, more upstate New Yorkers support hydraulic fracturing; others will point to the overall numbers that are heavily skewed by New York City voters who enjoy the benefits of cheap natural gas but have bought into the fear tactics by so-called activists,” said the trade group’s executive director, Karen Moreau.
According to the poll, a little more than half of all New Yorkers oppose drilling in the Marcellus Shale, with only 32 percent in favor. But 44 percent of people upstate support drilling, compared to 42 percent who are opposed.
That marks a shift from August 2011, when the Quinnipiac poll first asked people about their support for drilling. At that time 47 percent were in favor and 42 percent were opposed.
The director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, Maurice Carroll, suggested that people in the state might also be getting increasingly impatient with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s indecision on whether to allow hydrofracking to proceed.
“More of them see foot-dragging by Gov. Andrew Cuomo rather than a careful evaluation,” Carroll said.
There has been a moratorium on high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing in New York since 2008 while the state conducts an environmental review.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.