The Washington Times - January 31, 2013, 02:46PM

As their governor weighs whether to allow fracking, New Yorkers are evenly split on whether the controversial drilling practice should be allowed in their state.

A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday shows that 43 percent support “drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale,” which underlies parts of upstate New York. That fuel is accessible only by fracking — the use of water, sand and chemicals to crack underground rock and release huge quantities of gas.


But 42 percent of New Yorkers oppose the process, which has become the most hotly debated environmental and energy issue in the nation.

It also has attracted a great deal of attention from the entertainment industry. The celebrity-laden “Artists Against Fracking” group has made a permanent ban on fracking in New York its primary goal. The organization, founded by Yoko Ono, has held numerous protests and even hand-delivered thousands of comments opposing fracking to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

Mr. Cuomo’s administration continues to study the process, which is being used successfully and safely to the south in Pennsylvania. It’s unclear when he’ll make a decision, though he recently appointed the state’s first “energy czar,” seen by some as a sign he’s prepared to green-light fracking.

While the state as a whole is evenly split on the subject, support grows much larger when only upstate New York — where all of the drilling would take place — is counted. Among those residents, 48 percent support fracking for natural gas, while 40 percent oppose it, the poll shows.

Much of the opposition appears to come from New York City, where 48 percent oppose fracking and just 36 percent support it, according to the survey.