Environmental Protection

Survey: 69% Concerned about Fracking's Impact on Water

Respondents called for health studies and tighter public disclosure requirements.

According to a new survey, nearly half of Americans (45 percent) are already very or somewhat aware of the controversy about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling used to tap cheap natural gas supplies in the United States, says Infogroup/Opinion Research Corporation.

Infogroup conducted the survey for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI). Among Americans who already are aware of “fracking,” more than two out of three (69 percent) are concerned about the drilling technique’s possible threat to clean drinking water.

The first national poll to gauge the attitudes of Americans on the subject was released Dec. 21 along with two separate survey reports for more than 800 New York State/New York City residents and more than 400 Pennsylvanians.

The survey was conducted between Nov. 26-28, among a sample of 1,012 adults comprising 501 men and 511 women 18 years of age and older living in the Continental United States. Completed interviews are weighted by four variables: age, gender, region, and race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total population, 18 years of age and older. The margin of error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Key findings include:

  • 78 percent would “strongly” (49 percent) or “somewhat” (29 percent) support “tighter public disclosure requirements as well as studies of the health and environmental consequences of the chemicals used in natural gas drilling.”
  • 56 percent who are very/somewhat aware of fracking think state and federal officials are either “not doing as much as they should” (42 percent) or “not doing anything at all” (14 percent) to “require proper disclosure of the chemicals used in natural gas drilling.”
  • 72 percent of Americans say that they would tell their legislators they would vote for public health and the environment when it comes to energy production that requires large amounts of water or where water quality is in jeopardy as a result of the energy production
  • Only about 21 percent would say that energy production priorities have to come first.

Pam Solo, founder and president, Civil Society Institute, said: “Fracking is a perfect illustration of the fact that Americans don’t think of an energy source as ‘cheap’ or ‘clean’ if there is a hidden price in terms of safe drinking water and human health.”

The Civil Society Institute has carried out more than 25 major national- and state-level opinion polls on energy issues since 2003. The 100-percent independent CSI think tank receives no direct or indirect support of any kind from any natural gas industry interest, or any other energy-related company, trade group or related individual, according to the group's press release.

Based in Newton, Mass., the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute is a think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government, and business that can help to improve society. CSI also is the parent organization of 40MPG.org and the Hybrid Owners of America.

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