The Great Divide: Public Perceptions of Shale Gas Extraction and Hydraulic Fracturing in Pennsylvania and New York


  • Erick Lachapelle



This study compares public perceptions of shale gas extraction and hydraulic fracturing in two of the most populous states with significant shale gas reserves but with vastly different approaches to developing this resource. Drawing on data from a comparative survey administered to two statewide samples in Pennsylvania (n = 411) and New York (n = 404), the study examines the correlates of support for hydraulic fracturing, as well as general levels of public awareness, and perceptions of effects of hydraulic fracturing within the Marcellus shale play. Though the level of awareness of the fracking issue among residents of Pennsylvania and New York is found to be similarly high, levels of support for fracking differ, mirroring distinctive policy approaches found in these neighboring states. The correlates of support for fracking include being Republican, having a conservative ideology, and being male. The study also finds that residents of New York are more aware of fracking policy and debate in Pennsylvania than vice versa, with many New York residents perceiving negative effects on their home state as a result of fracking in neighboring Pennsylvania. This asymmetric level of awareness and concern raises new questions on the role of cross-­border perceptions in shaping opinion toward hydraulic fracturing in adjacent states.