Press Release

NEW POLL: 8 in 10 New Yorkers Support State’s Fracking Moratorium

Vast Majority Prefer Expanding Clean Energy Over Fossil Fuels

NEW YORK (October 7, 2014) – A new statewide poll of New Yorkers found that nearly eight in 10 support the state’s moratorium on fracking, amidst widespread concern over the safety of the practice. At the same time, the overwhelming majority support more renewable energy development.

“Across party lines—from the city to the country—New Yorkers have made it clear that they want a better future for this state than those that have been ravaged by the oil and gas industry,” said Kate Sinding, Director of the Community Defense Project. “People here know that fracking is a snake oil cure for economic woes, one that comes with steep costs—in the form of water pollution, air contamination, health issues and destroyed communities. Instead, we want to harness clean energy from the sun and the wind to power our homes, create more jobs and revive our economies for years to come.”

The results come while there is already a de facto moratorium on fracking in New York, in order to give the state time to evaluate the environmental and public health risks the practice poses. This polling suggests New Yorkers are supportive of this approach, which has come under attack from the oil and gas industry and its political allies.

Highlights from the polling results follow.

MORATORIUM

  • Support for the fracking moratorium is overwhelming: 79 percent of respondents support New York’s fracking moratorium.
  • Support for the fracking moratorium is bipartisan: 84 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Independents and 73 percent of Republicans are behind it.
  • Moratorium support extends upstate:77 percent urban upstate residents support it, as do 73 percent of upstate rural residents and 60 percent of residents in the counties most likely to be fracked.

CLEAN ENERGY

  • Vast majority of New Yorkers want more clean energy: 92 percent want more solar in the state, and 89 percent want more wind power.
  • Respondents choose renewables over natural gas: When asked to choose, 61 percent indicated support for developing clean, renewableenergy sources over natural gas, while just 25 percent chose gas.

OPPOSITION TO FRACKING

  • Opposition to fracking outweighs support. 56 percent of New Yorkers oppose fracking in New York, while only 35 percent support it.
  • Opposition holds strong upstate: 54 percent of urban and rural upstate respondents each oppose fracking, compared to 40 and 38 percent who support it, respectively. In the counties most likely to be fracked, 48 percent oppose fracking, compared to 44 percent who support it.

COMMUNITY IMPACTS

  • Most New Yorkers think fracking will negatively impact communities:55 percent indicated fracking is generally bad for local communities because of the impacts to water, land and health. Only 27 percent believed it is generally good for local communities because of jobs, tax revenue and economic development.
  • New Yorkers believe job impacts of fracking will be fleeting: 60 percent believe jobs from fracking are likely to be temporary, and only 26 percent believe they will be permanent or that drilling will bring economic revitalization.

Most polling on fracking in the state to-date has been conducted by either Quinnipiac University or Siena College. Since at least 2012, neither of those polls have directly asked respondents about their feelings on the fracking moratorium. That said, these findings reinforce and expand on similar results from other polls conducted in recent months that have consistently shown a growing majority in opposition to fracking, including among residents of potentially affected counties. 

A poll by Quinnipiac  from August found 48 percent of New Yorkers oppose fracking, while only 35 percent support it. That is identical to the relative proportions of opposition versus support among upstate residents found in our poll (while New York City and suburban residents in our poll indicated opposition to fracking by a margin of 55 to 35 percent).  And a July Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll conducted in the Marcellus shale region of New York showed 51 percent of people in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes opposed fracking, compared to 39 percent in support. Similarly, it found 50 percent of people in the Catskills and parts of the Hudson Valley opposed, compared to 35 percent in support.

The poll released today was commissioned from independent firm Franklin, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates – FM3, for the Natural Resources Defense Council. It was conducted among 802 voters from both major political parties and represented different age groups and ethnicities. The polling took place from September 18 to 22, 2014, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points (equivalent to a 95 percent confidence interval).

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