By Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau
ALBANY -- Support for hydraulic fracturing is inching up among New York's voters, according to a new poll released Friday.
According to the Siena College survey, 42 percent of likely state voters support allowing hydrofracking for natural gas to move forward in "parts of upstate New York." That's compared to 36 percent who are opposed.
Upstate voters, however, remain split on the much-debated technique used to help extract gas from gas-rich shale formations, with 43 percent in favor and 41 percent opposed.
The new poll represents the first budge in Siena's polling on hydrofracking in several months. In August, 39 percent wanted fracking to move forward with 38 percent opposed, which was virtually unchanged from May.
"While it's not a groundswell of support, more voters now support (the state Department of Environmental Conservation) moving forward on hydrofracking than in any previous Siena poll," Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said in a statement. "In August, a plurality of upstate voters and women had opposed fracking, and now small pluralities of both are in support."
Permits for high-volume hydrofracking have been on hold in New York while the DEC completes an environmental review and guidelines for the industrial process. State officials have offered no timeline on when that review may be completed, but ordered the Department of Health last month to assess the DEC's review before moving forward.
The Siena poll, which was conducted between Oct. 22 and 24, also found strong support for President Barack Obama and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats facing re-election next month.
Obama is carrying a 59-35 percent lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in New York, according to the survey. Gillibrand, meanwhile, has a 43-point lead over GOP candidate Wendy Long.
"The last time a Republican presidential candidate carried New York was 1984 and that streak of 28 years appears to be in no jeopardy this year," Greenberg said.
Siena polled 750 registered voters in New York. The survey holds a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.