A critical fact that has been lost in the sea of ink used to report on gas development is that gas drilling enjoys its strongest support, where it is taking place, and engenders the most opposition where it is not being done.
That fact is confirmed again by The Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey with a large sample.
For example, support for gas drilling is stronger in Pennsylvania than in New York, where a moratorium continues, and where most polling shows support for drilling exceeds opposition by about 5 points.
In turn, support for gas drilling within Pennsylvania is stronger in those counties, where it is taking place, than where it is not. The fact that support for gas drilling is highest in places where gas development is located is important but rarely makes it into the discussion about gas development.
After 4 years of extensive gas development, gas drilling was supported 45-25 in the Pittsburgh region that was defined as 32 counties in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland.
http://www.pittsburghtoday.org/specialreports/QOLreport_PT.pdf. And gas drilling was most strongly supported in counties around the City of Pittsburgh where it is concentrated, while support was weakest in the City, where no gas drilling is taking place.
No matter what polling says about public opinion, a major challenge remains maximizing the benefits and minimizing the costs of gas production for Pennsylvania and the country. More can and must be done to do both. And doing so will increase public acceptance of gas drilling across the Commonwealth and the nation.