A national poll released today by Robert Morris University shows strong support for hydraulic fracturing and the responsible development of oil and natural gas from shale. This comes just one month after a poll from the University of Texas showed overwhelming (more than 80 percent) support for natural gas development.
Respondents in the RMU poll were given a presentation on the fracturing process from the perspective of both environmental groups and the energy industry. The results speak for themselves:
- 56.4 percent support hydraulic fracturing
- 43.6 percent oppose the process
Tony Kerzmann, assistant professor of engineering at Robert Morris Univ. suggested the poll may be indicative of a trend toward increased public support:
“Just three years ago, when there was staunch opposition to fracturing by many environmental groups, I think you would have been lucky to have a third of poll respondents in support of the fracing… With the economic benefits many regions have experienced, and having experienced minimal environmental problems, even the environmental groups are starting to join forces with oil and gas companies.”
Polls like this prove that, despite some of the headlines we all read or the various claims intended to malign oil and gas development, the industry has been delivering significant benefits and minimizing risks.
According to the poll, of those surveyed:
- A majority of respondents would welcome hydraulic fracturing in their own backyards.
- A majority sees new drilling technologies as helping the United States become more energy independent.
- A strong majority sees hydraulic fracturing as boosting the U.S. economy.
It’s easy to see why this increase in support is occurring, too.
Air quality in New York City is the best it has been in 50 years, thanks in no small part to natural gas. U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide are at their lowest level in two decades. The United States is producing more oil than it imports for the first time in nearly 20 years, and OPEC is admitting that U.S. shale is cutting into its market share. Low cost natural gas – made possible by increased shale development – is bringing manufacturing back to the United States after more than a decade of decline.
Oh, and last year shale development supported over two million jobs nationwide and generated $75 billion in state and federal tax revenue. In a sluggish economy, shale offers a rare but meaningful glimmer of hope.
Even Obama administration officials have embraced responsible natural gas development, explaining the inherent safety of hydraulic fracturing as a key component.
As more time passes and the benefits of hydraulic fracturing are made clear, we should expect to see an even greater shift toward support for responsible development.