Both advocates and opponents of hydraulic fracturing are keeping a close eye on a February 27th approval deadline. As it draws closer, rallies and protests continue across the state. But as our Melissa Kakareka tells us, recent research suggests that residents are still as divided as ever.
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- It's been a four and a half year fight for anti-fracking advocates in the Southern Tier as they push for a continued moratorium on the controversial procedure. About 50 residents gathered at a rally in Binghamton Tuesday to continue that fight.
"It's really historic and special that we've stood up for this long and we're going to continue to stand up. Our message to Governor Cuomo is clear, that we are not going to be sacrificed to the industry," said Isaac Silberman-Gorn.
But despite those efforts from fracking opponents, and similar ones from gas drilling advocates, a new Siena Poll released Monday shows that New Yorkers remain evenly divided over the issue. In the Southern Tier, researchers say that 47 percent of voters are supportive of fracking while 48 percent are opposed. The poll also notes that fracking opponents are more passionate about their convictions.
Some anti-fracking advocates are optimistic about the results and feel that the number of fracking opponents is growing.
"This is the first time that Southern Tier residents have been scientifically polled in the Southern Tier and it shows that the majority of Southern Tier residents opposed fracking," said Silberman-Gorn.
But representatives from the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York say public opinion is actually in their favor. They point to recent election results as well as the Siena Poll for evidence.
"If you drill down into the results, you'll see that Southern Tier includes area like Ithaca, Cooperstown, Sullivan County, and those areas that are not necessarily prime areas for drilling, and it was still 50 percent or about 50 percent. Here, in Broome, Chenango and Tioga we know those numbers are much higher and we've known that for quite some time," said JLCNY attorney Scott Kurkoski.
But no matter how the poll is interpreted, both sides plan to continue holding rallies, movie screenings and other outreach efforts to spread their message. And both sides are hoping the state's decision will go their way by the end of the month.