Pennsylvania

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Poll Shows Support for a Drilling Moratorium in Pennsylvania

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A drill rig in Susquehanna County.

A new poll out Tuesday shows strong support for a moratorium on natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, despite showing general support for gas extraction.

The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan, in conjunction with the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, surveyed both Pennsylvania and Michigan residents on fracking. The survey shows general support for gas extraction in Pennsylvania. Forty-nine percent of respondents approve, and 40 percent oppose.

But almost two-thirds support a drilling moratorium in order to study the risks. Pollster and University of Michigan professor Barry Rabe says that’s not such a contradiction.

“A moratorium is not a ban,” says Rabe. “A moratorium is taking some time out and taking some time to develop a policy and process as opposed to completely prohibiting. So if there is a mixture of possible benefits and risks, support for a moratorium might be viewed as a way to view all those risks and minimize them before going forward.”

Most polled view Pennsylvania’s natural gas reserves as a public, rather than a private resource. And 59 percent of those polled view fracking as a major risk to water resources. When it comes to full disclosure of fracking ingredients, 81 percent of Pennsylvania residents “strongly agree.”

Rabe says the support for full chemical disclosure cuts across party lines.

“However we frame that question, you do have pretty overwhelming numbers in favor of disclosure even when you link it to the issue of trade secrets,” said Rabe.

Pennsylvania requires drillers to list well-by-well chemicals, which are publicized online. But companies do not have to disclose what they deem “trade secrets.” The poll has a margin of error of five percent.

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