A recent survey of residents living in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region found that most knew little about gas industry activities there and many did not believe gas development would affect quality of life. “However, with the exception of jobs and job training opportunities, they were more likely to expect a worsening of the amenities and services in the area rather than an improvement,” the survey found.
The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development, a partnership of several Pennsylvania colleges and universities, conducted its “Baseline Socioeconomic Analysis for the Marcellus Shale Development” using a mailed survey and interviews with residents. The survey achieved a 36% response rate out of 4,075 questionnaires.
“Four out of 10 had talked with neighbors and friends about the changes and issues that may accompany such [gas] development, but few had sought objective information from authoritative sources,” the survey said. “Most of their knowledge had been gleaned from media reports and discussions with others. Fewer than half reported they owned land in the region, and many of these did not own, or did not know if they owned the mineral rights. Fewer than one in five had been approached about signing a lease, just 10% had done so, and fewer than 2% actually had drilling or pipeline activity on their land. Although more than a fourth hoped to get a future job in the gas industry, virtually no one who responded to the survey was currently employed there.”
And a majority of survey respondents said they believe the availability of good jobs would increase. But they also said the quality of the environment and of drinking water would worsen. “…[A] sizable minority were concerned about worsening of roads and increases in the cost of living,” the survey found.
More than twice as many survey respondents said they supported developing the Marcellus Shale than those who said they opposed development. One-third said they neither supported nor opposed development.
“There was general support for natural gas extraction as a means of decreasing the nation’s reliance on foreign energy resources, and a majority felt that any negative impacts from the drilling can be prevented,” the survey found. “More people disagreed than agreed that problems created by development of the Marcellus Shale could be fixed, and just under half agreed that only a few people in the area would benefit from the development. However, for most items, there was little consensus in attitudes.”
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