New Survey: Western PA’s Natural Gas-Producing Communities Overwhelming Support Marcellus Shale

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.

More affordable, clean-burning natural gas is bringing forth a host of economic and environmental benefits – benefits that are being realized by each and every Pennsylvania, and American, regardless of where production is taking place.

Locally, for example, and as WJAC-TV reports, “More Pa. drivers converting to use compressed natural gas”:

O-Ring CNG Fuel Systems in Punxsutawney has been operating its compressed natural gas station for a year. Compressed natural gas is currently $2 a gallon at that station. Bob Beatty, the founder of the company told 6 News he believes that using compressed natural gas will continue to become more popular. He predicts that in five years compressed natural gas will not exceed $2.25 a gallon. Beatty said that there is currently an abundance of natural gas, and he believes there is enough in Pennsylvania to last the next 150 years. For Beatty, he said business has been successful. Over the last year he has opened stations in Punxsutawney, Coolspring and Rimbersburg. His Punxsutawney station has about 85 customers. Another station is slated to open near Interstate 80 in Clarion County. … Beatty said that it was costly to open up all three stations, but he said it has been rewarding to help curb costs for drivers so that many can go elsewhere in the community.

At the same time, in terms of national benefits associated with America’s abundant natural gas resources, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports this week that “U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in early 2012 lowest since 1992.”

Without question, American natural gas is driving economic growth and prosperity.