Monday, October 1, 2012

Americans Support More Regulation Of Fracking 56% To 29%

Headlines of a Bloomberg poll of public opinion about regulating fracking trumpeted that support for more regulation is declining.  Indeed, it is, according to the latest numbers. But the decline is not the real story.,0,7371121.story.

Though support for more regulation of fracking is down from stratospheric levels of 68% to 19% in March to a strong 56% to 29% today, the real message of the poll is that the American people do not believe that current regulation is adequate.  And by a huge margin!

Also, the national numbers conceal regional differences.  For example, support for more regulation in the Northeast is an overwhelming 69%.

Effective regulation requires strong rules, reasonable enforcement, and a genuine culture of safety embraced by all companies that compose the big, diverse gas industry.  The American public is right that their is more work to do in making regulation of the gas industry better and smarter.


  1. Concerned ScientistOctober 1, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    I'll venture a guess that most of the respondents to the poll don't have a clue of how much regulation there currently is. But I agree with you that this and other industries need to be closely regulated. Most companies will act responsibly, but deregulation invariably leads to a race to the bottom.

  2. Concerned ScientistOctober 1, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    This is a quote from that article -"The oil and gas industry have been blanketing the airwaves with ads that tout gas as our savior," Kate Sinding, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York, said in an e-mail. "They're using Big-Tobacco style smoke and mirrors messaging to deflect genuine concerns about the health threats.""

    Have you noticed that some anti-shale gas activists are now trying to link shale gas and hydraulic fracturing with smoking and the tobacco companies? The irony being, of course, that shale gas development will actually lead to an improvement in overall health where smoking is clearly a killer. Shale gas development will lead to better overall health in two ways: One is that landowners will have more money and be able to afford better health insurance and better doctors. One quick look at the area where the Barnett Shale has been developed suggests overall health improving (although it is far from a rigorous study - see it here But the overall concept is probably right - more money leads to better health care. The other way is that we are shutting down coal plants and replacing them with gas plants which emit orders of magnitude less air pollution, some of which can be deadly. That will definitely have a positive impact on health.

    Not one resident that I am aware of has been demonstrated to have become sick much less died as a result of nearby shale gas development. Workers can be injured or get sick from proximity to all that equipment but most oil companies are extremely safety conscious. Workers can get be injured or killed installing windmills and solar panels too and we all know about the health impacts of coal mining.

    I would venture a guess that the anxiety produced by fear of fracking is more of a health threat to those in the area than the actual drilling and fracking itself.