HARRISBURG – Pennsylvanians support drilling for natural gas by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, but a majority is opposed when it occurs under state parks and forests, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday.
The survey found 58 percent of voters support Marcellus Shale drilling and 33 percent oppose it. Democrats are against drilling by a margin of 48 percent to 41 percent.
“Pennsylvanians are generally willing on drilling, but it depends on where, drawing the line at state parks and forest land,” said Tim Malloy with the Quinnipiac poll.
Well more than a third of voters – 39 percent – said they were less likely to vote for incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett this year because of an executive order last month that expanded the amount of drilling connected to state parks and forests. Pennsylvanians overall were against the policy, 57 percent to 36 percent. Thirteen percent said it made them more likely to support Corbett and nearly half said it would not affect them one way or the other.
Corbett’s order allows drillers to extract natural gas from rock below Pennsylvania’s state forests and parks, but it does not permit drilling-related construction that would disturb the parklands above ground. The new policy is projected to reap about $75 million for the state budget in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The poll indicated 65 percent of women, 48 percent of men, 71 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Republicans were opposed to the new park drilling policy. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans favored it.
The state’s booming natural gas industry has brought jobs and economic activity to the state, but it also has raised concerns about the environmental impact.
The survey of 1,308 registered voters was conducted May 29 through Monday. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.