Poll: Most Pennsylvanians support gas drilling, but not in state forests

A natural gas well in Tioga State Forest.

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A natural gas well in Tioga State Forest.

A new poll out this week from Franklin and Marshall College has found that most Pennsylvanians support natural gas drilling, but do not want to see operations expand in state forests.

More than two-thirds or 68 percent of the participants said they oppose opening more state forest land to drilling, while 64 percent said they support natural gas development. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has been studying the effect of drilling on public forests, but as StateImpact Pennsylvania recently reported, the agency has not released any findings in more than three years and has spent approximately $6 million on the effort.

Poll director G. Terry Madonna says public opinion has not changed much in Pennsylvania since the same poll was conducted two years ago. More from PennLive.com:

“After this long debate we’ve had about drilling, the basic views have not changed very much,” [Madonna] said.

Neither the pro-drilling nor the anti-drilling factions seem to have gained any traction with voters in the last two years.

What’s more, Madonna said, both sides can declare victory from the poll results: the gas industry saying “people want drilling,” and the environmentalists responding “but they want it done safely.”

“It’s an interesting equilibrium with these groups holding on to the same support base they had before,” said Madonna.

Part of that, he conjectured, is because the majority of the drilling is happening “in the more remote areas of the state – it’s not something most voters have a daily or even frequent contact with.”


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