New York’s registered voters favor the economic benefits of drilling in the Marcellus Shale more than they fear environmental problems, according to a poll released on Thursday by Quinnipiac University. All voters — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — also favor taxing gas producers.

From Aug. 3 through Aug. 8, the Quinnipiac pollsters surveyed 1,640 registered voters in New York about a variety of issues. Voters overall were in favor of gas drilling by a 47-42% margin.

“Drill for the jobs, New Yorkers say, even though they’re worried about the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing [hydrofracking],” said Maurice Carroll, who directs Quinnipiac’s Polling Institute. “And while we’re drilling for natural gas, let’s tax those drilling companies, voters say 59-29%. Even Republicans support this tax…”

New York State voters “believe 75-17% that natural gas drilling will create jobs,” the poll found. “While many voters know little about hydrofracking, voters believe 52-15% that this process will damage the environment, with 33% undecided.” All groups polled felt this way overall.

Support for gas drilling was strong in the upstate area, where 51% were in favor of drilling while 39% opposed, as well as in the suburbs, by a margin of 52-37%. However, voters in New York City, where no gas drilling is taking place, were almost equally opposed by a margin of 50-38%.

The poll found that the state’s Republicans strongly supported gas drilling by a margin of 67-20%, while Democrats were opposed by a 52-37% margin. Independent voters were divided 47-45%.

Voters were nearly evenly split about the New York Department of Conservation’s proposed recommendations to allow hydrofracking in a portion of the state’s Marcellus Shale, with 45% in support of drilling and 43% opposed, according to a poll of registered voters released in mid July by the Siena College Research Institute (see Shale Daily, July 15). A survey in New York conducted early this year also found support for hydrofracking and gas drilling (see Shale Daily, March 10).

A review of New York’s gas drilling and hydrofracking regulations is under way and expected to be completed later this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to make a final decision in 2012 about whether producers will be permitted to drill in the state’s portion of the massive shale play.