Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, PA) conducted a statewide poll of 525 Pennsylvania residents in late August. Among the questions asked were a series of questions about Marcellus Shale drilling. The vast majority of Pennsylvanians support gas drilling in the state (66%). A slight majority believes the economic benefits of drilling outweigh the potential environmental impacts, and most think that opening more state forest land for drilling should not be done. The full questions and responses are listed below.
1. Do you think taxes collected on natural gas extraction should benefit the entire state, should only go to the local communities where the drilling takes place, or should be shared by both state and local communities?
14% Benefit the entire state
12% Only go to the local communities
72% Shared by state and local communities
2% Do not know
2. Is your opinion of the natural gas drilling industry favorable or unfavorable? [probe: strongly, somewhat]
31% Strongly favor
35% Somewhat favor
12% Somewhat oppose
11% Strongly oppose
11% Do not know
3. Do you believe the potential economic benefits of natural gas drilling outweigh the possible environmental damage that drilling might cause OR do you think the potential environmental risks of drilling outweigh the potential economic benefits?
39% Benefits of drilling outweigh environmental damage
35% Potential environmental risks outweigh the economic benefits
26% Do not know
4. Do you think that natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania has improved or reduced the quality of life in those communities where drilling is taking place?
15% Strongly improved
20% Somewhat improved
17% Somewhat reduced
9% Strongly reduced
40% Do not know
5. The state of Pennsylvania currently allows natural gas drilling in state-owned forests. About half of the state forests with natural gas deposits have been leased to natural gas drilling companies. Some state officials have proposed that all state forestland with natural gas deposits should be opened for natural gas drilling, but the state agency that manages the state’s forests believes additional drilling is likely to harm the forests. Do you favor or oppose opening more of the state’s forestland to natural gas drilling?
10% Strongly favor
12% Somewhat favor
18% Somewhat oppose
54% Strongly oppose
6% Do not know
Source: Franklin & Marshall College Poll (Sep 1, 2011) – Survey of Pennsylvanians (PDF file)