PITTSBURGH (AP) — A significant majority of people in Pennsylvania support the boom in Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling, according to a new poll released Thursday, but many also have concerns about its environmental impacts.
The Franklin & Marshall College poll found that 64 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly favor the gas drilling industry, compared to 27 percent who somewhat or strongly oppose it. But 37 percent also felt that potential environmental risks could outweigh the economic benefits of drilling, and 68 percent somewhat or strongly oppose drilling in state-owned forests.
Poll director G. Terry Madonna said what struck him most about the results is "the stability in the response over the last couple of years."
"There's a consistent narrative," Madonna said. "The voters of the state say, yep, we like the natural gas folks, but we want it done environmentally safely."
Over the last few years the industry and anti-drilling groups have both waged fierce campaigns to sway public views on the drilling issue. But Madonna said the lack of major shifts in opinion is partly because "for most Pennsylvanians Marcellus shale drilling is not a fact of their daily lives. They don't live in regions where drilling is done."
Dave Spigelmyer, the president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, said the results show a clear majority of Pennsylvanians "support responsible shale development."