New poll finds Pennsylvanians favor shale drilling, but not on public lands
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that a majority of Pennsylvania voters support the state’s Marcellus Shale boom. However, the poll found most of them oppose the idea of more drilling in the state’s parks and forests.
Fifty-eight percent of voters said they are in favor of natural gas development and 33 percent said they oppose it.
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“Pennsylvanians are generally willing on drilling, but it depends on where, drawing the line at state parks and forest land,” said Tim Malloy with the Quinnipiac poll.
Well more than a third of voters — 39 percent — said they were less likely to vote for incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett this year because of an executive order last month that expanded the amount of drilling connected to state parks and forests. Pennsylvanians overall were against the policy, 57 percent to 36 percent. Thirteen percent said it made them more likely to support Corbett and nearly half said it would not affect them one way or the other.
In January, a Franklin and Marshall poll found 68 percent of participants opposed opening more state forest land to drilling, while 64 percent supported natural gas development.
Earlier this week, the state Commonwealth Court wrapped up a hearing on an effort to temporarily stop Corbett’s executive order from taking effect. A top official at the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources told the court he advised the administration against new leasing in state forests.
Corbett’s executive order, issued last month, calls for a restrictive approach to drilling without “long-term surface disturbance” such as new well pads, pipelines, or access roads. It allows companies to extract gas horizontally from wells located on adjacent private land or in areas of state forests where leases already exist.
The administration says the plan will raise $75 million to plug a state budget gap.