The Public Has Major Concerns about Fracking, Part 1

Americans are not opposed to more domestic energy production, but are unwilling to achieve it by sacrificing clean water, energy efficiency, and expanded wind and solar power.

CATSKILL CITIZENS FOR SAFE ENERGYAmericans are not opposed to more domestic energy production, but they are unwilling to achieve it by sacrificing clean water, increased energy efficiency, and expanded wind and solar power in the process, according to a major new ORC International survey conducted for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI) and Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Available at, the December 26-29, 2012 poll of 809 respondents gauges the views of Americans about broad energy production issues, and also zeroes in on the recent controversy about the expanded shale gas fracking that would be needed to make possible large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to China and other countries.

Key survey findings on broad energy issues include the following:

  1. 94 percent of Americans — including 92 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of Independents, and 98 percent of Democrats — want political leadership on balancing calls for more energy production in U.S. with protecting clean water and air.  
  2. 91 percent of Americans feel it is important that their member of Congress demonstrate leadership on a “national agenda for clean energy and protecting America’s water and air.”  The vast majority of Republicans (85 percent), Independents (87 percent), and Democrats (96 percent) agree on the need for such leadership.
  3. 92 percent of Americans think “U.S. energy planning and decision-making” should be based on “a comprehensive understanding of what our national water resources are” — a national water roadmap that Congress asked for, but which was never produced.  The national water roadmap attracts the support of 92 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Independents, and 94 percent of Democrats.
  4. 86 percent of Americans want leadership on shifting from coal and nuclear energy to wind and solar. Support for this approach exists across party lines, including 72 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Independents, and 97 percent of Democrats.

On fracking and LNG exports, key poll findings include:

  1. 62 percent of Americans oppose “expanding U.S. production of shale gas for use by other nations” first before the health research is done, as recommended recently by more than 100 U.S. health professionals. This approach is supported by about half (49 percent) of Republicans, and over two thirds of Independents and Democrats, at 67 percent and 69 percent, respectively.
  2. 88 percent of Americans want leadership when it comes to exercising caution on exporting energy — such as natural gas — that could boost China and other economies, but hurt U.S. consumers by raising energy and manufacturing costs at home. Nearly identical support levels were seen here along partisan lines: 88 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Independents, 87 percent of Democrats.
  3. 86 percent of Americans “support more studies of the health and environmental consequences of the chemicals” used in fracking. Supporters of this approach include 81 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents, and 89 percent of Democrats.
  4. Three quarters of Americans have heard of fracking, with 51 percent saying they are very or somewhat familiar with it. 79 percent of Americans are concerned about fracking “as it relates to water quality.”  

Pam Solo, president and founder, Civil Society Institute, said: “This survey should be a wake-up call for federal elected officials. The polling data we are releasing today should give pause to decision-makers who assume the American public will support energy policies without regard to consequences or the impact these choices have on safe drinking water. The voracious appetite that conventional energy, such as gas, oil, coal and nuclear power, has on water availability is increasingly a problem for many parts of the country.

“When given a menu of choices and not asked a simple 'yes or no' question, Americans weigh our options, and come down in favor of increased energy efficiency and low environmental impact and healthier energy futures, such as wind and solar power. The distance between what the public values and where political decision-makers are headed should be seen as an opportunity for real leadership at the federal level. Energy policy is at the heart of our economic prosperity, public health, and national security. And Americans overwhelmingly want a voice that can counter the undue influence of the energy industries that have a stake in business as usual.”

Please tune into the Chemical Equipment Daily for part two of this two-part series. What’s your take? Please feel free to comment below! For more information, please visit,, or

More in Operations