The first statewide poll by the nonpartisan Mercyhurst College Center for Applied Politics (MCAP), taken between September 19 and October 7, has found that a clear majority - 57 percent - of Pennsylvanians oppose ANY drilling for natural gas in state forests, and that two thirds of Pennsylvanians - 67 percent - oppose drilling within state parks.
This is strong confirmation that Pennsylvanians care deeply about their public forests and parks. A statewide poll last month that found that a whopping 72 percent of Pennsylvania voters oppose any additional leasing of our state forestland for gas drilling. The fact that MCAP’s poll found that almost 60 percent oppose any drilling at all in state forests is important.
Clearly, Pennsylvanians understand the folly of burning the furniture to heat the house. They understand that there are limits to exploiting our natural resources, and they are holding up a big red STOP sign when it comes to drilling in state parks.
Place these results in the context of the poll. The strong support for conservation of our public lands comes through loud and clear even though Pennsylvanians hold largely positive views on the economic benefits of “fracking.” (And, significantly, of taxing it – 73 percent of Pennsylvanians say that gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale formation should be taxed.) But Pennsylvanians are narrowly split on whether the economic benefits of Marcellus exploration are worth the risks to the environment and public health. MCAP points out that “Slim pluralities favoring the practice are within the margin of error for the survey.”
A clear majority of Pennsylvanians (60 percent) say that they don’t believe corporations extracting gas from the Marcellus Shale formation “truly care about protecting the environment”. The industry could go a long way in demonstrating their environmental sensibilities by respecting the moratorium on further leasing of the state forest and by taking the pledge to stay out of state parks.
That is what Pennsylvanians want.