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Poll: Americans oppose exporting natural gas, support of fracking regulation, and accept climate change

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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The latest results from The University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll are out (link). The findings indicate that a majority of Americans favor domestic energy production, oppose exporting domestic natural gas, and accept that climate change is occurring.

The UT Energy Poll was developed by the McCombs School of Business and launched in October 2011 to provide an objective, authoritative look at consumer attitudes and perspectives on key energy issues. The latest wave of the poll surveyed a representative group of 2,000 Americans, weighted using U.S. Census Bureau figures, as well as propensity scores, to ensure the sample’s composition reflects the actual U.S. population.

On hydraulic fracturing:

Overall, , 45 percent of respondents familiar with hydraulic fracturing say they support its use for fossil fuel extraction, down from 48 percent a year ago, while 41 percent say they oppose the practice.

However, of this group, only 22 percent of Democrats support fracking, while 60 percent oppose it, and 71 percent of Republicans support fracking, while 20 percent oppose it.

Consumers continued to express concern about possible harm to the environment from the use of hydraulic fracturing, with the potential for water contamination again topping the list of specific concerns.

Hydraulic fracturing remains a divisive issue. Graph from UT Energy Poll, Spring 2013.

On climate change, nearly three-quarters of respondents answered that climate change is occurring, with deforestation, oil, coal listed as significant contributors.

When asked where the government should spend tax dollars, respondents listed job creation, social security, and military as priority items. Infrastructure, energy, and the environment rounded out the bottom of the priorities list (while infrastructure is listed as the least desirable use of tax dollars).

From the UT Energy Poll, Spring 2013.

You can read more about the UT Energy Poll by going to their website (link) and dig in to the top level results for yourself (PDF).

David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. sault 2:52 pm 04/11/2013

    Well, infrastructure and clean energy development are effective job creators, both in their direct construction and in the indirect economic activity they cause.

    I’m glad to see that fossil fuel propaganda concerning climate change hasn’t been all that effective with nearly 75% of people agreeing with the science on the issue too.

    While the partisan divide on “fracking” is extremely wide, 2/3 of people agree that it should be regulated. The best way to do this is to repeal the special exemptions from the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act that fracking enjoys and give the EPA enough resources to adequately enforce these and other applicable laws. In addition, the indegrients in fracking fluids must be disclosed so that we can track any potential contamination from drilling activities. The excuse that the chemicals in these fluids are proprietary is just downright silly. First of all, the government was insturmental in developing fracking techniques over the last few decades. Secondly, the government handles proprietary info all the time. We are just letting drilling companies put peoples’ health and safety at risk so they can dodge regulation and make higher profits. How is that fair?

    Link to this
  2. 2. ronwagn 7:08 pm 04/11/2013

    Any serious, well informed, and fair environmentalist knows that replacing coal burning with natural gas is job one for improving air quality around the world. Coal pollutants include particulates, mercury, sulfuric acid, nitrogen oxides, etc. It is responsible for millions of early deaths yearly. Natural gas is the cleanest fuel there is, aside from hydrogen. It is the cheapest, and the most abundant.

    Producing and using natural gas is the best solution for base power, in conjunction with solar, wind, geothermal etc. There is plenty of natural gas all around the world, and it can be accessed with new and future technology. The main concern for environmentalists worldwide should be to cut the use of coal, especially in antiquated plants. Here are the top ten coal burners: Dead link. Just search their site. China burns almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined.
    It is possible for the whole world to drastically cut coal burning and benefit the health of all. Coal pollution travels around the world.


    Natural gas is the future of energy. It is replacing dirty old coal plants, and dangerous expensive nuclear plants. It will fuel cars, trucks, vans, buses, locomotives, aircraft, ships, tractors, engines of all kinds. It costs far less. It will help keep us out of more useless wars, where we shed our blood and money. It is used to make many products. It will bring jobs and boost our economy. It lowers CO2 emissions, and pollution. Over 6,200 select natural gas story links on my free blog. An annotated and illustrated bibliography of live links, updated daily. The worldwide picture of natural gas. Read in 79 nations. ronwagnersrants . blogspot . com

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  3. 3. ronwagn 7:13 pm 04/11/2013

    97 Useful references for natural gas:

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  4. 4. sault 2:44 am 04/14/2013


    How much does the natural gas industry pay you to post this spam?

    Link to this
  5. 5. MoEnergySci 8:55 am 04/17/2013

    I wonder if more people would support fracking if it was more comprehensively regulated?

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  6. 6. Ricky1980 11:58 pm 04/19/2013

    Natural gas sells for $2 in US and $20 in China. It costs $9 to ship gas to China. When infrastructure is in place to ship gas to China, the US price will rise to $11 – a 450% increase! Simple math. The only people who should favor allowing US gas to be exported are the natural gas industry CEOs!

    Link to this

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