Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro on Wednesday said he would support lifting the state's ban on hydrofracking in the Southern Tier — a controversial process the Cuomo administration blocked three years ago amid intense pressure from environmental groups.

“I do believe that a closely monitored, DEC-watched pilot in the Southern Tier is appropriate. Again, closely watched and monitored, as was suggested before the ban went into place,” Molinaro said.

Cuomo moved to ban hydrofracking through his regulatory powers in 2014, weeks after he elected to a second term. Supporters of natural gas drilling have condemned the move, calling it a lost opportunity for the Southern Tier, which has struggled economically.

“I think the process should process an outcome — not have them declare what the outcome is and make sure the process supports it, which is what we're seeing with a lot of the governor's pronouncements lately,” he said.

Cuomo's campaign responded on Twitter taking note of the ban three years ago:

Molinaro says he would want to bolster environmental monitoring, however, including efforts to address clean water.

“I think the state needs to identify, map and protect water sources. We don't do that universally statewide,” he said.

As a member of the Assembly, Molinaro voted for moratoriums on hydrofracking. He said Wednesday that was meant to help local governments develop their own regulations and that Cuomo's ban ignored the concerns of local communities.

“He circumvented all of it because he doesn't care about local control, local consideration and I think doesn't respect the process that's in place today,” said Molinaro.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found Cuomo would handily defeat Molinaro, 57 percent to 31 percent, if the election were today.