How does support for gas production in Pennsylvania decline to a plurality of 49% approving and 40% disapproving, as measured by the recent poll done by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College?
In addition to no drilling tax and too many accidents and spills, driving down support is the belief that no place is off limits to gas drilling, not parks, not even the Loyalsock State Forest, a spectacular, wild place.
The fate of the Loyalsock State Forest is becoming a test of whether there are limits on gas drilling that regulation or the gas industry itself voluntarily would impose. People from many walks of life and with divergent political opinions are all rallying to stop gas drilling in the Loyalsock.
More than 250 Pennsylvanians took their time to attend a public hearing in Williamsport, Lycoming County, where gas drilling on private lands is also widely practiced and has considerable support. But not one of those attending testified at a public hearing in support of gas drilling in the Loyalsock. The contrast is stark between opinion about drilling in one of Pennsylvania's most special state forests and the desire of waiting private landowners who are eager for gas drilling to be done on their properties.
The gas industry must respect public opinion, whether it likes that opinion or not, if it is to maintain the slim support it now has. Indeed, it cannot afford to win battles like the Loyalsock, if it wishes to avoid losing the public opinion war.