A new poll suggests most Americans favor stricter regulations on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling.
Bloomberg News conducted a National Poll and found 65 percent of Americans favor more regulations for fracking drilling. Another 17 percent told the news agency they weren’t sure and 18 percent said they didn’t favor more regulations. The poll consisted of just more than 1,000 U.S. adults.
It’s clear national opinion has been swayed by the multitude of reports on the negative impact of fracking drilling, mostly for natural gas, and not by the promises made to the public about the benefits to a boom in natural gas drilling, including decreasing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
While most Americans have yet to see the benefit of a boom in the nation’s natural gas production, they have either experienced or heard about the problems it causes, either its threat to the environment, its connection to localized incidents, of water and air pollution and its drain on fresh water supplies.
Also, despite a reported boost to the struggling economy with tens of thousands of jobs there has been increasing evidence that those promises may not last long term and the amount of gas available from underground shale, only accessible through the fracking process.
As fracking has become a household term, those directly impacted have realized that loose regulations on the drilling process has allowed drillers to open natural gas wells almost unchecked. Lax safety regulations on the process has led to poor well construction which has, in turn, led to leaking of toxic chemicals used in fracking.
It’s those same regulations, or lack thereof, that has allowed companies using the fracking process to deny the public access to information on some of the most toxic chemicals used in it. Dozens of families across the U.S., especially in the Mid Atlantic region which has seen the biggest boom in fracking drilling, believe fracking has caused their ongoing nightmare, forced to find alternate sources of fresh water because their wells have become too contaminated with fracking chemicals, including benzene and methane gas.
In reaction to these problems, some states and local municipalities have passed localized bans or tighter restrictions on the process in an effort to trump admittedly weak federal safeguards in place. Recent upholding of these bans in state courts have given fracking opponents confidence their campaign to highlight the dangers of the process is working to at least keep drilling expansion in check.
Those who believe fracking is dangerous have been successful in keeping the process away from major sources of fresh water for large populations of people in the Mid Atlantic. Support for more regulations has been sparked, in part, by its proximity to so many more people than it had previously been applied.
All this has put increasing pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to speed up its promised review of the fracking process in light of new evidence of its dangers. The agency has stalled in releasing a safety review and possibly recommending new regulations due to a strong lobby from the natural gas industry and those companies which benefit from expanded fracking drilling.