Pennsylvanians less likely than New Yorkers to view fracking negatively

September 9, 2014 by Greta Guest

The word "fracking" evokes negative reactions from two out of three New Yorkers, but from fewer than half of Pennsylvania residents, according to a University of Michigan poll.

The neighboring states sit atop a portion of 141 trillion cubic feet of natural gas known as the Marcellus Shale deposit. Getting to the fossil fuel through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is encouraged untaxed in Pennsylvania, while a six-year freeze is active in New York.

The issue has risen in the race for governor in both states. Both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, get low marks for their handling of the shale gas issue in their states, according to the National Surveys on Energy and Environment.

"Corbett's ratio of 19 percent positive to 47 percent negative is substantially worse than Cuomo's ratio of 27 percent positive to 36 percent negative," said Barry Rabe, U-M professor of and director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy.

The survey is a joint effort of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Muhlenberg Institute of Public Opinion at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.

"New York residents are nearly three times more likely than their counterparts in Pennsylvania to give the risks to Americans' health, safety and the environment from fracking the highest, most serious rating of 10 on a scale of 0 to 10," said Christopher Borick, a political science professor and director of the Muhlenberg Institute of Public Opinion.

The survey also found:

  • While a majority of Pennsylvanians (54 percent) support the extraction of shale gas in their state, fewer than three out of 10 New Yorkers (29 percent) support it in their borders.
  • A majority of New Yorkers (51 percent) and Pennsylvanians (55 percent) believe that most experts are divided on the risks posed by fracking.
  • Pennsylvanians are less likely (47 percent) than New Yorkers (66 percent) to view the word "fracking" negatively.

The telephone survey of 405 New York residents and 411 Pennsylvania residents drawn from all regions of each state and comprising statistically representative profiles of their respective residents was conducted in March, April and May 2014. The data was weighted by gender, age, race and educational attainment to the results of the 2010 U.S. Census.

Explore further: Fracking brings economic boost, but risks raise concerns

More information: The survey results are available online: closup.umich.edu/issues-in-energy-and-environmental-policy/14/public-perceptions-of-shale-gas-extraction-and-hydraulic-fracturing-in-new-york-and-pennsylvania/

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