ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Opponents of shale gas drilling that involves blasting chemical-laden water deep into the ground are asking New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top campaign contributors to pressure him to ban the practice in the state.

New York Residents Against Drilling and several other groups sent a letter to Cuomo's top 1,000 individual donors on Wednesday saying Cuomo's reported plan to permit hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in a limited area would "treat Southern Tier residents as second class citizens and unfairly subject them to potentially irreparable hazards."

Environmentalists and other critics say fracking could poison water supplies, but the natural gas industry says it's been used safely for decades.

Cuomo hasn't denied a New York Times report in June that he plans to allow drilling to begin in the area near the Pennsylvania border where the Marcellus Shale is richest in gas and where communities have voiced support for the industry.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation hasn't allowed shale gas drilling since it began an environmental impact review and new regulations four years ago. It's updating regulations to address the potential impacts of new technology including horizontal drilling and high-volume fracking. The review is expected to be completed this year.

Signers of the letter, including Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan, ask donors to tell Cuomo to ban fracking until issues such as disposal of drilling wastewater and potential health impacts are fully addressed.

For Cuomo, a Democrat, the issue a bit sticky politically. Some of his base is steeped in the environmental movement. But Cuomo also has made job creation "Job One," and expanding an industry would help him during high unemployment.

Cuomo's biggest campaign donors come from business, which is pushing for fracking as a job creator and a way to reduce high taxes, another goal for Cuomo as he continues to brand himself as a fiscally conservative Democrat.

Walter Hang, who owns a consulting business that tracks toxic sites for property investors and other clients, said he believes Cuomo "listens a great deal to his biggest campaign contributors, many of whom are intensely involved in governmental affairs."

"If he hears from these contributors," Hang said, "it may be a more powerful message than when he hears from ordinary citizens."

Bill Mahoney, a campaign finance specialist with the New York Public Interest Research Group, said only about 1 percent of the business donations Cuomo has received has come from businesses focused on hydraulic fracturing. The largest donations in the past few years, he said, have come from New York City real estate interests.

"There are a lot of people on the donor list who may not have put a lot of thought into fracking and might be influenced by receiving a letter in the mail," Mahoney said. "It's fair to say these people they're contacting have more access to the governor than most New Yorkers do, so if they could convince them to become anti-frackers, it might help their cause."

A call for comment from Cuomo's office wasn't immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Also on Wednesday, residents of six Southern Tier towns where town boards have passed resolutions supportive of gas drilling spoke out against the resolutions, saying they don't represent the views of the majority of residents and were passed with little public input.

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Associated Press writer Michael Gormley in Albany contributed to this report.

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  • In this file photo from Oct. 14, 2011, a drilling rig is seen in Springville, Pa. State regulators blamed faulty gas wells drilled for leaking methane into the groundwater in nearby Dimock, Pa. It was the first serious case of methane migration said to be related to the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale gas field drilling boom. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, FILE)

  • British police secure the area where demonstrators erected a mock fracking rig with a banner reading 'No fracking in the UK' in a protest against hydraulic fracturing for shale gas outside the Houses of Parliament in London on December 1, 2012. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS

  • SPRINGVILLE, PA - JANUARY 18: A truck with the natural gas industry, one of thousands that pass through the area daily, drives through the countryside to a hydraulic fracturing site on January 18, 2012 in Springville, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 30: Protestors stage a demonstration against fracking in California outside of the Hiram W. Johnson State Office Building on May 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Dozens of protesters with the group Californians Against Fracking staged a protest outside of California Gov. Jerry Brown's San Francisco offices demanding that Gov. Brown ban fracking in the state. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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  • In this Nov. 26, 2012 photo, Steve Lipsky demonstrates how his well water ignites when he puts a flame to the flowing well spigot outside his family's home in rural Parker County near Weatherford, Texas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had evidence a gas company's drilling operation contaminated Lipsky's drinking water with explosive methane, and possibly cancer-causing chemicals, but withdrew its enforcement action, leaving the family with no useable water supply, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press. The EPA's decision to roll back its initial claim that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” operations had contaminated the water is the latest case in which the federal agency initially linked drilling to water contamination and then softened its position, drawing criticism from Republicans and industry officials who insisted they proved the agency was inefficient and too quick to draw conclusions. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

  • In this file photo of Jan. 17, 2013, Yoko Ono, left, and her son Sean Lennon visit a fracking site in Franklin Forks, Pa., during a bus tour of natural-gas drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania. Ono and Lennon have formed a group called “Artists Against Fracking,” which has become the main celebrity driven anti-fracking organization. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

  • In this March 29, 2013 file photo, a worker checks a dipstick to check water levels and temperatures in a series of tanks at a hydraulic fracturing operation at a gas drilling site outside Rifle, Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

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  • Josh Fox, director of the anti-fracking, Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland” testifies during a House Committee hearing on oil drilling, "fracking" legislation at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

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  • People demonstrate on August 3, 2013 in La Petite Brosse, near Jouarre, outside Paris, to protest against an exploratory oil shale drilling, considering that it opens the door to the exploration of shale gas in the Parisian Basin. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE ANDRIEU

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  • Eric Weltman of Food & Water Watch attends a news conference and rally against hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in New York State on January 11, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • Opponents and supporters of gas-drilling, or fracking, walk into the last of four public hearings on proposed fracking regulations in upstate New York on November 30, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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