A new poll from Robert Morris University (RMU) shows the public overwhelmingly supports fracking for natural gas and oil production. Even before the EPA released its long awaited report largely exonerating fracking from charges it was causing water pollution, the poll showed more than 57% of Pennsylvanians support fracking. Nationally, 56 percent of those survey supported fracking.
Among those surveyed in Pennsylvania, 74 percent said fracking would have a positive economic impact on the country, compared to 73 percent nationwide.
When asked whether fracking can “move the US to energy independence”, nationally 69 percent of those polled agreed, compared to 70 percent of Pennsylvanians.
The poll indicated a number of those surveyed were concerned fracking could cause or was causing air and water pollution and earthquakes. This fear evidently reduced support for fracking from the more than 70 percent who agreed it was good for the economy and national security, to the 56 percent nationally who supported fracking overall.
Shale Energy Insider quoted Tony Kerzmann, professor of engineering at RMU, saying “I think probably the biggest thing you can make of these findings is people want cheap energy and are willing to accept environmental impacts.”
Awareness Breeds Comfort not Contempt
In a positive sign for the oil and gas industry, which is spending millions of dollars to raise awareness of the fracking’s economic benefits and the fact it is environmentally benign, it seems the more the public knows about fracking, the more comfortable and supportive they are of the activity. Support for fracking grew nationwide from 42 percent in 2013, to 56 percent today, coinciding with an 25 percent increase in the awareness of fracking. Seventy percent of those surveyed in this year’s poll were aware of fracking, up from 45 percent in 2013.
“One of the things we have to realize is that the awareness is mostly industry driven. I think the fracking awareness and the increase in support go hand-in-hand,” Kerzmann suggested.
The poll was conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute and sponsored by Trib Total Media, sampling the opinions of 1,003 adults nationwide resulting in a +/- 3.0-percentage point margin of error. RMU also polled 529 Pennsylvania residents separately during the same time period.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute.