Natural Gas: A Unifying Issue for America

The safe development of job-creating American natural gas is without question Powering an American Renaissance. And while these associated benefits are clear, and support for clean-burning domestic natural gas is strong and growing stronger, so too is the sharp divide in public opinion on the major issues of the day – principally immigration reform, healthcare, gun control, same-sex marriage, entitlement and tax reform, and government spending. A quick review of recent polling reinforces this fact.


Immigration (54-42)

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll (Feb. 21-24, 2013)
“As you may know, there is a proposal to allow foreigners who have jobs but are staying illegally in the United States to apply for legal status. Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose this proposal?”

Strongly
favor

Somewhat
favor

Somewhat
oppose

Strongly
oppose

Depends
(vol.)

Unsure

%

%

%

%

%

%

2/21-24/13

19

35

17

25

2

2

 


Healthcare (53-46)

CNN/ORC Poll (Jan. 14-15, 2013).
“As you may know, a bill sometimes known as ‘Obamacare’ that makes major changes to the country’s health care system became law in 2010. Based on what you have read or heard about that legislation, do you favor all of the proposals in Obamacare, favor most of them, oppose most of them, or oppose all of them?” N=406 (Version B), margin of error ± 5

Favor all

Favor most

Oppose most

Oppose all

Unsure

%

%

%

%

%

1/14-15/13

15

38

28

18

1

 


Gun Control (46-50)

Pew Research Center/USA Today (Feb. 13-18, 2013).
“What do you think is more important — to protect the right of Americans to own guns, or to control gun ownership?”

Protect
right to
own guns

Control
ownership

Unsure/
Refused

%

%

%

2/13-18/13

46

50

4

 


Same-Sex Marriage (46-46)

Fox News Poll (Feb. 25-27, 2013).
“Do you favor or oppose legalizing same-sex marriage?”

.

Favor

Oppose

Unsure

%

%

%

2/25-27/13

46

46

8

 


Government Spending vs. Tax Cuts (44-49)

Bloomberg National Poll (Feb. 15-18, 2013).

“Which of the following approaches is more likely to be successful in growing the U.S. economy and creating jobs? Spending cuts and tax cuts will give businesses more confidence to hire. Government spending in infrastructure, education, and alternative energy will create jobs.” Options rotated

Spending cuts,
tax cuts

Government
spending

Unsure

%

%

%

2/15-18/13

44

49

7

 


The persistent gridlock in Washington, DC is without question a function of this sharp divide. Now, contrast this polling with the broad bipartisan support that the American people continue to demonstrate for domestic natural gas production.

Gallup: Republicans and Democrats broadly agree that goals related to defending U.S. national security interests and securing adequate energy supplies are paramount among nine possible U.S. foreign policy goals Gallup recently tested.

Huntington Bank Survey: In Western Pennsylvania, 79 percent of respondents said the new [natural gas] industry would bring opportunity to the area.

Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey: 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.” That’s almost a 2-1 margin.

Key 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].

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 [in western Pa.] supports gas drilling as a good economic opportunity.” “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.

And while we appreciate that many Pennsylvanians have legitimate concerns and questions about natural gas development, which supports more than 240,000 jobs in the Commonwealth according to the state department of labor & industry, is this issue a top concern of the public’s? Well, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, “Only 2% of Pa. voters believe Hydrofracking/Natural Gas Drilling is the most important problem facing Pennsylvania today.”

Natural gas development is not a partisan issue, nor should it be. In some sense, given the clear public opinion research laid out above, it’s actually hard to think of an issue other than natural gas that garners so much across the board public support. Maybe a mother’s day resolution. Or, of course, the displeasure with Congress.

In fact, President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address remarks reinforce this broad public support. As you may know, this is what he offered on the issue: “After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. … The natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. We need to encourage that.”