Do the residents in the area of the drilling really approve?

According to public opinion polls, support for natural gas production in and around communities where these activities are taking place is very strong. These communities often have the lowest unemployment rates and most jobs, and are seeing major upticks in tax revenue. And local businesses along the supply chain are seeing positive growth, too. This from a major survey released in August:

Safe, tightly-regulated, job-creating Marcellus Shale development is supported by a clear majority of western Pennsylvania communities where natural gas production actually occurs. That was among the key findings in the recently released Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey, “the most extensive survey of the residents of Greater Pittsburgh since the historic Pittsburgh Survey was published in 1908.” Conducted jointly by PittsburghTODAY and the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for Social and Urban Research, the research shows that “More residents supported (44%) than opposed (25%) Marcellus Shale drilling activity.”

Here are several key survey findings:

  • Most residents overall viewed natural gas drilling as an economic opportunity for the region. For example, 7 in 10 saw it as either a significant or moderate economic opportunity.
  • Extracting natural gas from the shale formation was supported by more than 44% of residents overall, while 1 in 4 opposed the practice.
  • Marcellus Shale gas production was viewed in a more positive light in the 25 counties that surround the Pittsburgh [Metropolitan Statistical Area]. Residents there were the most likely to strongly support natural gas production and the least likely to see it as an environmental or public health threat.
  • Only 4% of residents in the survey area characterized air quality in the region as a severe problem. … On the other hand, nearly 54% felt it was not a problem at all.

This from the Post-Gazette: “A greater percentage of area residents support drilling than oppose it, especially outside Allegheny County, with 44 percent of residents supporting extraction of the gas, compared to 4 percent opposing the practice, according to researchers.”

Additionally, Essential Public Radio reports that, according to Dr. Scott Beach, associate director of Pitt’s Center for Social and Urban Research, “a vast majority supports gas drilling as a good economic opportunity.” Indeed, as Dr. Beach notes and as other research has demonstrated, safe, tightly-regulated natural gas development is overwhelmingly supported in communities where production occurs: “People in the areas where most of the drilling is occurring tend to have more positive attitudes towards Marcellus Shale. They’re more likely to support it,” said Beach.