No doubt, Marcellus Shale is a big topic of conversation among Western Pennsylvania residents. And most of those residents, according to key findings just released in the Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey, support Marcellus Shale.
The survey, Conducted jointly by PittsburghTODAY and the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for Social and Urban Research, found that more residents supported (44%) than opposed (25%) Marcellus Shale drilling activity.”
Those that don’t support it, still follow the news and activities surrounding it. Only 19% of residents said they did not follow developments in gas drilling, while more than half (54%) said it was an issue they followed very closely or somewhat closely. The chief sources of their information on the issue were newspapers and other news media.
Most residents viewed natural gas drilling as an economic opportunity for the region. Seven in 10 saw it as either a significant or moderate economic opportunity, while only 1 in 10 felt it offers very little or no economic opportunity for the region.
Drilling was viewed as an environmental and public health threat to some degree by most residents. There were a few who felt it wasn’t a threat at all (17%). More than half (55%) believed Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling was either a significant or moderate environmental and public health threat. The majority of residents (57.6%) supported state government assuming greater oversight of the environment, the overall quality of which they were divided on. More than 31% felt that environmental quality was improving, while 22% felt it was getting worse.
In general, men across the region were less likely than women to express concern about the quality of the air and water. They were more likely, for example, to express the view that air and water quality and the pollution of streams and rivers were not a problem at all.
Extracting natural gas from the shale formation was supported by more than 44% of residents overall, while 1 in 4 opposed the practice. About 11% of residents overall had been personally affected by drilling in some way, and 15% said they or someone in their family had signed a lease with a natural gas company to use land they owned.
Key Findings of the Study:
- Despite failure to meet federal air quality standards, the region’s residents do not generally perceive air quality to be a serious problem—less than 1 in 5 think it is a “moderate” or “serious” problem. Similar results were found for drinking water quality.
- Residents were more likely to perceive pollution of streams and rivers as problematic.
- Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale was perceived as both an economic opportunity for the region and a potential environmental and public health threat, although more residents thought Marcellus Shale drilling was at least a “moderate” economic opportunity (70%) than at least a “moderate” environmental/public health threat (55%).
- More residents supported (44%) than opposed (25%) Marcellus Shale drilling activity, and this tendency was greatest in the six-county remainder of the Pittsburgh MSA where most drilling activity is occurring.
- Male residents were less likely to perceive air quality, drinking water, and stream and river pollution as problems than female residents. Males also were more likely to favor Marcellus Shale activity than females.
View the entire study, including other topics of interest, here: http://www.pittsburghtoday.org/specialreports/QOLreport_PT.pdf.