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More than half of New Yorkers say risks of gas drilling outweigh revenue

More than half of New York state residents believe that the environmental risks of natural gas drilling outweigh the revenues produced by such activity, according to the latest Empire State Poll conducted by Cornell's Survey Research Institute.

Fully 52 percent of New Yorkers polled stated that the risks outweigh revenues for gas drilling, compared with 27 percent who believe the revenues outweigh the risks and 21 percent who did not know enough about the issue to form an opinion.

Cornell's Survey Research Institute polled New Yorkers about this issue in 2010 and 2011. During both polls, the share of New York residents who felt the environmental risks outweighed the revenue benefits was about twice that of residents who felt gas-drilling revenues outweighed the risks.

The poll also found that, statewide, an equal share (52 percent) of men and women believe that risks of gas drilling outweigh the monetary returns. Opinions on this issue diverged by region, race and household income: A greater share of downstate residents (54 percent) believe that risks outweigh revenues than their upstate (50 percent) counterparts. Similarly, 59 percent of non-white residents versus 50 percent of white residents say risks outweigh revenues.

Age and one's position on the political scale also had a bearing: Younger and more liberal New Yorkers tend to believe that the risks outweigh revenues. For example, 66 percent of self-described liberals say risks outweigh revenues, compared with 47 percent of moderates and 41 percent of conservatives.

When decisions have to be made about gas drilling regulations, a clear majority (61 percent) agreed that local government should have control. This was consistent across upstate and downstate respondents.

 

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Joe Schwartz