Voters in New York still support natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale by a thin margin, 45-41%, because they believe the economic benefits outweigh environmental concerns, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

Interviewers for the independent survey called land lines and cell phones of 1,016 registered voters Sept 13-18. The survey has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.1%. In the last poll, the Quinnipiac pollsters’ survey of 1,640 registered voters in New York Aug. 3-8 found them overall in favor of gas drilling by a 47-42% margin (see Shale Daily, Aug. 15).

Hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) continues to be a contentious issue for statewide voters, the survey found.

“Would hydrofracking produce jobs? Overwhelmingly voters say yes. Would it damage the environment? Another yes — but less emphatically,” said Maurice Carroll, who directs the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Upstate voters, who have the most to gain in terms of jobs and the most to lose in terms of the environment, oppose natural gas drilling, while suburban voters support it.”

Upstate voters are divided in the latest poll, with 47% opposed because they are worried about the environment and 43% in support, the poll found. New York City voters split on drilling 41-41%, while suburban voters support drilling 56-31%. Support is 69-20% among Republicans and 47-42% among independent voters. Democrats are opposed 52-35%. Men support drilling 52-39% while women are opposed 44-39%.

Tax companies drilling for natural gas, the voters said, with 51% in support and 36% opposed. By a strong 74-19% New Yorkers believe drilling will create jobs. Support among upstate, New York City and suburban voters is similar, the poll found.

However, more than half of those surveyed said hydrofracking will damage the environment, by 51-13%; 35% responded that they don’t know. Strong concern for the environment exists among upstate voters 54-16%. Most of the drilling now planned is to be done in the Southern Tier of the state, near the Pennsylvania border.