Energy. Environment. Economy.

Nature Conservancy poll: voters value natural areas over gas development

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.

More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“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.”




  • DeanMarshall
  • JimBarth

    Neither regulation by existing legislation, nor, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, require any kind of meaningful/protective restriction on the shale gas/liquid extraction industry.

    When Damascus Citizens for Sustainability deposed PADEP staff during a lawsuit the organization had brought, it was discovered that PADEP staff spent approximately 35 minutes reviewing, in its entirety, an application to drill and frac, before rubber stamping the application, and, that PADEP made no distinction involving areas designated as “special protection”. Indeed, if I remember correctly, the staff didn’t even know the definition of such special areas.

    As long as Pennsylvania, other States, and the United States, allow the marketplace (the oil and gas industry) to be the “decider” as to what areas to drill, how many wells to drill in a given area, and how fast to drill those areas, there will be massive potential for contamination, forest and habitat destruction, and, citizen opposition.

    As long as Pennsylvania, and other states, allow the existence of open air, treated, frac flowback holding ponds (what industry calls “fresh” water), and gas wells, 300′ from a neighbor’s house, and allows well pads to be placed virtually up against a neighbor’s home, there will be no peace on this subject.

    As long as industry is given virtual free reign over placement of compressors, and pipelines, and as long as it is allowed to operate 24/7/365 in every aspect related to operations (drilling, frac’ing etc.), and as long as industry is allowed to “voluntarily” adhere to pollution control measures, both the industry, and our governments, will be met with outrage from those in the drilling zones, and those sensitive, and aware enough, to be concerned.

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