A new poll out today from the Nature Conservancy shows when given a choice, a majority (54 percent) of voters in the Appalachian shale region say they would prioritize conserving natural areas over gas development, even if it meant paying higher energy costs.
The survey included 1,250 telephone interviews assessing attitudes toward environmental issues, including forest health and natural gas development.
“Clearly people value forests and rivers and natural habitats, and they don’t want to see natural gas development come at the expense of those areas,” said Nels Johnson, the oil and gas lead for the conservancy’s North America Energy Program.
Asked about government actions to regulate shale gas development, overwhelming majorities said they support requiring drilling companies to: avoid damaging forests and streams important for hunting, fishing and hiking (93 percent); follow regional plans for location of wells and pipelines to minimize wildlife habitat impacts (93 percent); mitigate adverse impacts to forests and water quality (92 percent); and base well locations on sound science (91 percent)…
Travis Windle, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a gas industry lobbying organization, said he wasn’t aware of any coalition member companies working with the conservancy.
Mr. Windle declined to comment on the poll results because he hadn’t had a chance to review them, but said a Robert Morris University poll released in November demonstrated “strong public support” for the shale gas industry.
“It’s a false choice to suggest that we can have affordable and reliable energy and job growth or we can protect our environment,” he said, “and our industry continues to work collaboratively with a broad base of stakeholders to make certain that we continue to achieve these shared goals.”
The Robert Morris University poll included responses from 1,003 adults and showed 42.3 percent strongly support hydraulic fracturing while 32.8 percent were opposed. Many, 24.9 percent, were unsure.
The Nature Conservancy poll also showed strong awareness of shale development, with 50 percent of respondents saying they had heard “a great deal” about it and 23 percent saying they had heard “a little.”