New Poll Finds Growing Opposition To Fracking

Read time: 4 mins

A new study from Stanford has confirmed that fracking operations are contaminating drinking water sources in Wyoming.

“This is a wake-up call,” said lead author Dominic DiGiulio, a visiting scholar at Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. “It's perfectly legal to inject stimulation fluids into underground drinking water resources. This may be causing widespread impacts on drinking water resources.”

Of course this comes soon after a Pennsylvania jury awarded $4.24 million to two families in Dimock, PA who sued Cabot Oil for contaminating their drinking water via fracking operations. And a new study that has found fracking — and not just frack waste injection — is causing earthquakes in Canada.

Reuters recently reported that Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy revealed that, “Methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and gas sector are substantially higher than we previously understood.”

So, it shouldn’t be too surprising that a new poll from Gallup finds that opposition to fracking among the American public has increased in the past year and now a majority of Americans oppose fracking.

And the poll found that opposition to fracking has growing bipartisan support. While the support for fracking by Democrats (25%) and Independents (34%) has essentially remained unchanged over the past year, Gallup found that support among Republicans dropped significantly from 66% to 55%.

This poll also gives some insight into the current Democratic presidential race. Sen. Bernie Sanders has made his opposition to fracking clear by stating, “I do not support fracking” —which helps explain some of his support as the new poll shows that 75% of Democrats share this opinion.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has qualified her responses on this issue and “sold fracking to the world” while serving as Secretary of State. Those efforts certainly could be the reason the Clinton campaign, the Clinton Foundation and her Super PAC have received significant funding from the fossil fuel industry — an issue that has recently received significant attention.

A critical vote in the Democratic primary will occur in New York on April 19th. While New York is Clinton’s adopted home state — where she served as Senator — it also is a state that has recently banned fracking.

Will fracking and climate issues become more important in electoral politics? New York may shed some light on this issue on the 19th.

The New York Times addressed this issue and reported that “fracktivists” in New York are skeptical of Clinton’s position on the issue.

Sandra Steingraber is a leading figure in New York’s fight against fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure and explained her position to the Times.

We’re in the middle of a climate emergency, and have to keep all the fossil fuels in the ground. Hillary Clinton has definitely shifted her positions. Whether she shifts them again should she become the Democratic candidate in a general election and softens them, that’s the question I hear people wondering about.”

So, fracking and climate change are becoming issues in the Democratic campaign. However, while Gallup found support of fracking falling among Republicans, the usual anti-science rants continue from Republican candidates.

In Colorado last week, a congressional candidate made the following assertion.

“There have been earthquakes long before we ever did fracking. Let’s be honest. You know God is kind of in control of those. And not by us drilling down in the ground and doing the fracking.”

Meanwhile, according to Gallup, “The U.S. Geological Survey said this week that 7 million Americans are at risk of experiencing earthquakes caused by fracking in the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas.”

With a majority of Republicans still supporting fracking, it appears the Republican candidates will continue to ignore science in favor of oil industry donations.

This past weekend, Hillary Clinton defended her record on climate issues on Meet the Press saying, “I feel sorry sometimes for the young people who, you know, believe this [that she is beholden to oil industry donors]. They don’t do their own research.”

As the great American fracking experiment continues, it appears that more of the public is doing their “own research” on fracking. According to this latest poll, they don’t like what they are learning.

Will the politicians eventually come around to the same conclusion? 

Image credit: Fracking Industry Secret Sauce, via DES Daughter Flickr CC.
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