Mercyhurst Poll: Majority of PA Residents Support Fracking

Mercyhurst College recently completed a statewide poll in Pennsylvania covering several issues, one of which is Marcellus Shale drilling in the state. A copy of the full questions and responses is embedded below. On the straightforward question, “Do you favor or oppose extracting natural gas through fracking in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale region?” the results were: Favor 55%; Oppose 27%; Depends 9%; Don’t Know 9%. A very clear and convincing majority of Pennsylvanians support fracking.

From the Mercyhurst press announcement summarizing the results:

Pennsylvanians believe the economic benefits of gas extraction from Marcellus Shale are substantial, but are evenly divided on the risks for the environment and human health, according to a just released poll of the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP).

The Mercyhurst Poll surveyed 426 residents across the state in a random sampling taken Sept. 19 to Oct. 7, and addressed four major themes: Environment & Marcellus Shale, Economics & Poverty, Bullying and Youthful Offenders & the Juvenile Justice System. All final reports will be posted to the MCAP website upon their completion.

The section on Enrivonment and Marcellus Shale revealed that Pennsylvanians’ opinions on extracting gas from the Marcellus Shale formation through the process of “fracking” reflect uncertainty about the practice and the state’s regulatory response to the developing shale gas industry.

Key findings indicate roughly 70 percent of Pennsylvanians have heard about “fracking.” Of those, 55 percent favor the practice, 27 percent oppose it and 18 percent say it “depends” or they “don’t know.” Support decreases substantially when asked if they favor or oppose “fracking” in state forests and state parks. A clear majority (57 percent) oppose the practice in state forests and a sizable majority (67 percent) opposing “fracking” within state parks.

Pennsylvanians hold positive views on the economic benefits of “fracking.” Roughly 73 percent say that gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale formation should be taxed, and 55 percent believe that gas extraction, even if it is not taxed, will “significantly help” Pennsylvania’s financial situation. Likewise, a clear majority (62 percent) believe that gas extraction has brought “a significant number” of new jobs to Pennsylvania and that it will “significantly increase” the nation’s energy independence (59 percent).

In the end, Pennsylvanians recognize the tradeoffs of “fracking” and are narrowly split on whether the benefits are worth the risks. For example, 44 percent of Pennsylvanians say that the “potential benefits” of “fracking” are worth the “potential risks to human health,” while 40 percent say they are not. Similarly, 46 percent say that the “potential benefits” of “fracking” are worth the “potential risks to the environment,” while 43 percent say they are not.*

*Mercyhurst College Press Release (Oct 11, 2011) – Mercyhurst Poll shows Pa. residents divided on risks of Marcellus Shale