Two public opinion polls, one in New York and one of voting-age residents across the nation, indicate that support for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is slipping, with opposition to the practice reaching a high in one poll conducted in New York.
According to a Siena College Research Institute poll released on Monday, 45% of respondents are opposed to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) allowing fracking to move forward in parts of the state. Another 37% said they support fracking, while 18% were undecided.
Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center poll from late September also found growing national opposition to fracking, with 49% opposed to an increased use of fracking, while 44% favor it.
The last time 45% of respondents to a Siena poll said they opposed fracking was in April, when the practice failed to gain sway by a 45-40% margin. Support for fracking had also tied a record low; previous Siena polls in May 2012 and this past June also registered 37% support for the practice.
In the latest Siena poll, fracking garnered support among suburban voters (46-38%), Republicans (47-30%) and men (48-41%), but it was opposed by New York City residents (41-35%), Upstate residents (52-34%), Democrats (51-31%) and women (47-28%).
"Given the steady drumbeat of misinformation that we've seen out of the opposition movement over the past five years, I'm surprised the [opposed] number isn't higher," said Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York (IOGA) spokesman Jim Smith. "This could be an anomaly, a blip. It could correct itself next time," he told NGI's Shale Daily.
"We've been through several years of pretty even polling on the issue. It's a poll, not science. It's not based on facts, it's just based on opinion according to what people see and hear in the news. We think that if people knew the facts, the polling would probably be in the opposite direction."
A Siena poll conducted in August showed New Yorkers opposed fracking by a 42-41% margin, but support for the practice appeared to be rising, and the gap narrowed (see Shale Daily, Aug. 14). A separate poll conducted in April by Quinnipiac University 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).
The latest Pew study, issued on Sept. 26, found that fracking was supported by residents of the South (47-46%), Republicans (58-36%) and men (51-44%). The practice was opposed by residents of the Northeast (51-42%), Midwest (48-47%) and in the West (55-38%) , as well as Democrats (59-33%), independents (49-45%) and women (54-38%).
In March, Pew reported that 48% were in favor of increasing the use of fracking, while 38% were opposed (see Shale Daily, April 5). Seven percent were undecided on the issue in the latest Pew study, compared to 14% in March.
The Siena poll surveyed 807 registered New York voters between Sept. 22-26, with a margin of error of plus/minus 3.4%. The Pew nationwide study was conducted Sept. 4-8, and was based on interviews with 1,506 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia; its margin of error is plus/minus 2.9%.