A snap poll conducted by the Syracuse Post-Standard in New York has found that nearly 88% of respondents believe hydraulic fracturing (fracking) should at least be permitted in certain parts of the state, while only about 10% believe the practice should be banned outright.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the snap poll, titled "Right now, I think hydrofracking in NY...," which is open to all of the newspaper's web visitors, had received 1,032 votes. Of those, 868 (84.11%) said fracking "should be allowed" in the state, while another 38 (3.68%) agreed with the response that the practice "should be allowed, but only in limited locations in the state." Another 11 (1.07%) respondents said they were unsure of their position on fracking, but were leaning toward allowing it.
Only 105 respondents, 10.17% of the total, said fracking "should be banned." Another 10 respondents (0.97%) said they were unsure but leaning toward a ban on fracking.
Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York (IOGA)'s Jim Smith called the number of snap poll respondents "a pretty significant number. Of course, these aren't scientific polls, and they wouldn't suggest [that they were]," he told NGI's Shale Daily on Wednesday. "They're snap polls, which are sort of a way to gauge the mood of people at a particular point in time.
"We're obviously pleased with the results. We think that if people knew the amount of detail that the regulations and the SGEIS [supplemental generic environmental impact statement] will have in them, and every bit of that detail is designed to protect the environment, then I think even more than 88% would support moving forward."
An advertisement produced by the American Petroleum Institute (API) accompanied the snap poll.
The Post-Standard's Steve Carlic, editorial opinions specialist, said he was "not particularly surprised" by the results. "It depends on who picks up the entry on our site and passes it around to similarly-minded people," he told NGI's Shale Daily. "I think it's been picked up by a natural gas forum, and it had a high number of pass arounds on Twitter and Facebook. It's not a scientific poll by any stretch. We have [a mechanism] on there to prevent multiple voting so you can't vote from the same computer more than once in a week. [The snap poll] is a device to encourage reader engagement, but it's by no means a measure of public sentiment one way or the other."
The snap poll was uploaded to the newspaper's website on Tuesday afternoon and is to remain there indefinitely.
Asked if he anticipates the poll numbers changing, Carlic said, "If it corresponds with what several opinion polls of New Yorkers have found, it would level off, but it's hard to say because it gets passed around among people who are on the same side of the fence, so to speak. If fracking opponents pick it up, they may send it around and it will counterbalance."
A Siena College Research Institute poll published in August showed respondents in New York were opposed to fracking by a 42-41% margin, but support for the practice was on the rise and the gap between the two positions on the issue had narrowed (see Shale Daily, Aug. 14). A separate poll conducted by Quinnipiac University in April found New Yorkers opposed to fracking by a 46-42% margin, but support also appeared to be growing (see Shale Daily, April 22; March 20).
If the current moratorium on high-volume fracking in the state were to be removed, producers have shown interest in exploring the counties of Steuben, Chemung, Tioga, Broome, Tompkins, Cortland, Onondaga, Chenango and Ostego, which sit just over the border from the northeastern Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale hot spot counties of Tioga, Bradford, Susquehanna and Lycoming.