Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Pew Survey: Americans Have Mixed Feelings About Fracking

Reuters/Tim Shaffer/Landov

A worker walks past a natural gas drilling rig near Towanda.

A new national survey out today by the Pew Research Center shows 48 percent of Americans favor the increased use of fracking, while 38 percent are opposed.

Unsurprisingly, differences of opinion fall along partisan, gender, and regional lines.

Women are divided on the issue, with 41 percent favoring fracking and 42 percent opposed. Men support it by a 55 to 34 percent margin.

Regionally, there is more support for it in the Midwest and South and less in the West and Northeast.

Carroll Doherty is the Associate Director for the Pew Research Center for People and the Press and says fracking is still under the radar for many people.

“There’s still not a great deal of awareness nationally about how this process works and its potential benefits and risks.”

A year ago Pew conducted a survey about attitudes toward different energy resources and found 74 percent of Americans reported knowing just a little about fracking, or nothing at all.

Despite that lack of awareness, twice as many Republicans as Democrats favor the increased use of fracking (66 versus 33 percent).

“Boy, the partisan gap is really striking given that it’s a fairly low visibility issue,” says Doherty.

This new survey also found broad support for the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Two-thirds of Americans support expanding the pipeline, while just 23 percent oppose it.

Researchers also asked Americans about their views on global warming, and found a majority (69 percent) agree, “there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades.”

However, fewer people believe that global warming is a “serious problem” — that number fell by six points, from 39 to 33 percent since last fall.

The survey was conducted March 13 -17 and includes 1,501 adults.

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