Quinnipiac Poll Shows NYers Support Fracking Despite Concerns

Quinnipiac University of Hamden, CT just completed a new statewide public opinion poll in New York which shows some interesting results about New Yorker’s attitudes toward drilling. Overall, more New Yorker’s favor drilling in the Marcellus Shale than oppose it. Hydraulic fracturing, the method used by drillers to free the gas, has been so misrepresented by those opposed to drilling that New Yorkers are still leery of it, even though most don’t even understand what it is and how it works. Overall 52 percent of New Yorkers believe fracking will damage the environment, but nearly half, 47 percent, believe the economic benefits are worth the risk.

For those who support drilling, the good news is that fully one-third of all New Yorkers polled are still undecided or “don’t know” what fracking is and whether or not it’s safe. There’s a real opportunity for those who support drilling to educate the public. A whopping 75 percent believe drilling will create jobs in the state. Sadly, most New Yorkers don’t realize there is already a tax on drilling (called an ad valorem tax in New York) that will mean millions of dollars going to local municipal coffers—school districts, local towns, etc.—most residents support a new tax on drilling.

Read the full polling questions and the results embedded below.

From the Quinnipiac press release:

By a 47 – 42 percent margin, New York State voters like the economic benefits of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale more than they fear possible environmental concerns, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Support for drilling is 51 – 39 percent among upstate voters and 52 – 35 percent among suburban voters. New York City voters are opposed 50 – 38 percent. Support is 67 – 20 percent among Republicans, while independent voters are divided 47 – 45 percent. Democrats are opposed 52 – 35 percent.

New York State voters believe 75 – 17 percent that natural gas drilling will create jobs, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds, with strong support among all groups and in all regions of the state.

While many voters know little about hydro-fracking, voters believe 52 – 15 percent that this process will damage the environment, with 33 percent undecided. All groups feel this way.

“Drill for the jobs, New Yorkers say, even though they’re worried about the environmental effects of hydro-fracking,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “And while we’re drilling for natural gas, let’s tax those drilling companies, voters say 59 – 29 percent. Even Republicans support this tax.

“There’s no natural gas in New York City, where voters are opposed to the drilling.”

*Quinnipiac University Press Release (Aug 11, 2011) – New York Voters Back Fracking, Despite Concerns, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds

  • Sierra
    Club’s Poll and Research Strategist examined the data.  She found the below results you
    should be aware of when reading about this data.  


    Quinnipiac’s research finding seems valid, but there are some
    important caveats to note:


    – Only registered voters were polled (n=1,640; MoE +/- 2.4
    percentage points)

    – 47% support drilling in the Marcellus Shale. The question
    did not measure support for hydro-fracking in general

    – Gender differences are significant: 56% of men support
    drilling in the Marcellus Shale while just 38% of women do

    – Support for drilling is driven by upstate and suburban New
    Yorkers (urban dwellers are opposed to drilling in the Marcellus Shale)


    Also, this poll found significant support (59%) for a new tax
    on companies drilling in Marcellus Shale across. This support crosses gender,
    geographic, and party lines. This poll then asks “Do you think that
    drilling for natural gas in the state’s Marcellus Shale will create jobs or
    not?”… Huh? Obviously it will. Poor use of a question. The real question
    should have been whether New Yorkers believe these jobs justify the
    environmental/health damage and a lost opportunity to promote alternative clean
    energy (and its long-term job creation).  


    Finally, Quinnipiac investigated awareness and understanding
    of hydro-fracking. Unaided, 57% of respondents have heard/read anything about
    hydro-fracking (skewed by the 75% of upstate voters who had read/heard
    something). This finding doesn’t tell us how much people have read/heard. After
    hearing a brief description of the process, 52% say it will cause environmental
    damage, just 15% say it won’t, and 33% say they don’t know. There is a
    clear opportunity for public education on the consequences of hydro-fracking in
    New York.

  • Plenty for both sides to not like in the questions of the poll. Thanks for letting us know about this analysis.

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