Cornell Conference: Majorities in NY & PA Support Drilling

Results from two different surveys on resident’s attitudes toward shale gas drilling in New York and Pennsylvania were delivered at the Agribusiness Economic Outlook Conference, held Dec. 13 at Cornell University. Richard Stedman, associate professor of natural resources at Cornell, reported the following from a survey of 6,000 residents in both New York and Pennsylvania:

…an overwhelming majority of respondents to a survey of 6,000 households in the two states admitted to knowing nothing or very little about what to expect in terms of key economic and environmental effects of natural gas extraction.

Their trust of the key players involved in the gas drilling debate was also very low, although Pennsylvania residents were slightly more willing to trust gas companies than their New York counterparts, who considered scientists, cooperative extension specialists and environmental groups more trustworthy.

Nearly 40 percent of New Yorkers surveyed said they supported gas drilling, 30 percent said they were opposed to it, and 30 percent were neutral. In Pennsylvania, 47 percent indicated their support and almost 18 percent their opposition, with 34 percent neutral.*

Tim Kelsey, professor of agricultural economics at Penn State, reported the following results from a survey of residents who live relatively close to drilling in Pennsylvania:

His own survey of 1,000 residents who lived within 1,000 feet of gas drilling wells in Pennsylvania’s Bradford and Tioga counties found that more than 52 percent reported a positive personal impact, 17 percent reported a negative impact, almost 4 percent said there were both positives and negatives, and almost 28 percent said they were unsure.

He said rural landowners, who hold the majority of the leases, tend to be more positive.

"You don’t see that level of perceived benefit among rank-and-file community members," he added.*

Kelsey also added that although there are increased costs for emergency services and road repairs, that drillers have stepped up to handle the extra costs. “I have yet to talk to a municipality that has said its taxpayers are bearing the burden,” he said.

*R&D Magazine (Dec 14, 2011) – Pennsylvanians are mixed about gas drilling