The results of a new survey by researchers at Oregon State, George Mason and Yale universities show 58% of Americans either don’t know or have not decided how they view hydraulic fracturing. A full 39% reported that they had not heard anything about fracking, and only 9% had heard “a lot.” Twenty percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly opposed fracking and 22% were somewhat or strongly supportive.
Among the factors that were found to be predictive of support or opposition were age, political worldview and news consumption habits. Supporters tend to be older, get most of their news from TV and are politically conservative. People who oppose fracking tend to be women, hold egalitarian worldviews and stay up-to-date on current events through newspapers. Mentioning potential environmental impacts tended to negatively influence respondents’ views on fracking, while informing them about potential economic and energy security impacts had the opposite effect.
Clearly there are huge opportunities for both the oil and gas industry and anti-fracking groups to rally support for their respective causes. Time will tell how those opportunities are seized.
Photo: Joshua Doubek