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National Poll Finds Growing Awareness, Support for Fracking

A poll conducted by Pittsburgh's Robert Morris University has found that more Americans are aware of horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) compared to two years ago, and there appears to be more support for the technology.

In 2013, RMU found that 42.3% of those polled nationally expressed support for fracking, compared to 55.9% of those polled in May (see Shale Daily, Nov. 18, 2013) Nationally, 70.7% said they were aware of the fracking process, up from 45.1% in November 2013.

The poll also showed that 57.1% of those surveyed in Pennsylvania, home to the bulk of Marcellus Shale development, support fracking. RMU said results in Pennsylvania reflected more favorable opinions of the industry and its work, compared to results across the country, albeit by a few percentage points in most instances.

The university surveyed 1,003 adults nationwide between May 8-16, with an error margin of plus/minus 3%. It also polled 529 Pennsylvanians, with a plus/minus 4.5% margin of error.

Among those surveyed in Pennsylvania, almost three-quarters (74.3%) said fracking has the potential to help the U.S. economy -- a full percentage point higher than the national survey. While fracking was found to have 3-1 support in the state, 60.1% agreed with the statement, "the environmental impact of gas drilling outweighs any resulting reduced energy costs or energy independence."

But 48.2% of Pennsylvanians polled said they would "favor fracking in their hometowns," up from 43.3% two years ago.

"I think probably the biggest thing you can make of these findings is people want cheap energy and are willing to accept environmental impacts," said RMU engineering professor Tony Kerzmann.

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