A recent survey in Ohio finds public support for fracking, a controversial process of using high-pressure water and chemicals underground to extract oil and natural gas from shale, and voters there want to use revenues levied on fracking to restore services such as law enforcement and schools that were reduced by state cutbacks to local governments.
The latest quarterly Ohio Omnibus Survey by Fallon Research found that a plurality of 47 percent of Ohio voters supported fracking to meet energy needs in Ohio, and 32 percent opposed it. More than one fifth, 21 percent, were unsure, which could indicate ambivalence given that 64 percent of voters say they are nor very or somewhat familiar with fracking.
A sizeable majority of 57 percent of voters, asked how revenues from taxes levied on fracking should be spent, said the new funds should restore services such as law enforcement and schools that suffered state and local budget cutbacks. This view was chosen by a plurality of Republicans (42 percent), as well as majorities of Democrats (68 percent) and independents or voters of other minor parties (58 percent).
Restoring spending cuts was chosen over other uses, including the current plan to reduce state income taxes, which garnered support from just 21 percent of users, or building up the state’s rainy day fund, which was chosen by 11 percent.
Despite the modest level of support for fracking and high familiarity with it, Ohioans still may have some misgivings. While a plurality of 48 percent see the process of fracking as very or somewhat safe, 32 percent said it is not very or at all safe and 20 percent were unsure. Generally younger voters (47 percent of 18-29-year-olds) saw fracking at not very or at all safe, while 53 percent of those 60 or older rated it as very or somewhat safe.
The wording of the question was: “There is a method known as ‘fracking’, which is a process of using compressed chemicals and water top break up shale deposits, in order to extract natural gas and oil from them. Do you support or oppose using fracking to meet energy and electricity needs of residences and businesses in Ohio?”
Paul Fallon is a public opinion researcher, political pollster and advisor for corporations, levy committees, interest groups, political candidates and public organizations. He also conducts customer, member, contributor and citizen satisfaction studies for government agencies, industry and labor groups. More details are available on www.fallonresearch.com