While a majority of Californians support curbs on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), when they are aware of the economic advantages coming from the drilling practice a majority (56%) supports its use, according to a statewide public opinion survey released last Friday.

Even with the support for fracking done safely and creating more jobs, California voters are wary about the practice, with 58% saying they favor a moratorium and seven of 10 indicating they want the process either banned or heavily regulated.

The poll by the University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times showed a majority of those surveyed have concerns about the environmental and safety implications of fracking.

Even with additional oil and natural gas produced from the practice helping lower energy and gasoline pump prices, a third of those polled said they opposed the practice.

While 60% of the people surveyed think fracking should be banned in areas surrounding groundwater sources, by a 15-point margin a majority supports tax incentives for companies with a record of operating safely.

In March, USC released a study partially funded by the Western States Petroleum Association that concluded fracking could generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of new tax revenue in the state.

“Yet although energy firms have resisted tighter regulation, the poll findings [released Friday] suggest that more government oversight may be the path to public acceptance,” the Times report said, noting that there are several measures currently being debated in the state legislature to put more curbs on fracking (see Shale Daily, June 3).

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, told the Times that voters are “suspicious” of fracking and they want stricter regulations.