Siena poll indicates New Yorkers are split on fracking but opposed to legislative pay hike

IndustriesAssociated Press

New Yorkers remain divided over hydraulic fracturing for natural gas as the state prepares to outlaw the drilling process, according to a Siena College poll released Friday.

The survey found that 38 percent oppose fracking and 35 percent support it. Support for fracking was highest among Republicans and in suburban areas and lowest among Democrats and residents in New York City and upstate.

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On Wednesday, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration announced that it would issue a fracking ban early next year. Cuomo's health and environmental commissioners detailed a state analysis that determined fracking posed a threat to water, soil and air — there was a lack of evidence that it can be done safely.

The state had a de facto ban in place as it studied the process, which involves extracting oil and gas from deep underground by pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressures deep underground.

The Siena poll also showed the idea of a pay increase for state lawmakers is unpopular with voters, with 63 percent saying they oppose a raise and 28 percent saying they support one. Opposition was highest upstate. The annual salary for legislators is $79,500.

Some lawmakers have called for a lame-duck session this month to approve a pay hike. Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said the poll suggests they may want to think carefully about the political impact first.

"If I'm running for re-election in the fall of 2016, my opponent is going to use that against me," Greenberg said of a pay increase.

The telephone survey of 639 registered voters from Dec. 11 through Dec. 16 has a 3.9 percent margin of error.