Poll finds favorable view of oil and gas industry

PARKERSBURG — A poll of residents living in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions found a positive opinion of the oil and gas industry while the federal agency tasked with their environmental protection had the least trust.

Orion Strategies polled 600 people 18 and older who live along the Ohio River in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The live-interview telephone poll was conducted April 3-6.

The findings were overall positive for the industry.

“It doesn’t surprise me that much,” said Greg Kozera, marketing director for Shale Crescent USA.

The attitude has been shaped by a positive impact from oil and gas development, Kozera said. People have determined that the fears spread by media and environmental groups have not happened, Kozera said.

Residents have been affected by the new jobs created either directly or indirectly, and improved roads, schools and other public facilities as a result of oil and gas development, he said.

“They’ve seen the jobs that have come out of it,” Kozera said.

The survey found “key insights” into the perceptions of the energy industry, Orion said.

“Even though there has been almost 10 years of public outreach in these three states, there are still swaths of people in this epicenter region of the Marcellus and Utica who can learn more,” Graham Godwin, lead researcher at Orion Strategies, said.

The counties that were surveyed were on the Ohio River from Parkersburg and Marietta to Beaver County, Pa., the area where an ethane cracker is being built. Billions of dollars in development in ethane crackers, power plants, natural gas midstream operations and manufacturing have been under way in the counties where the polling took place, the company said.

“This area represents the very heart of the oil and gas region of the Marcellus and Utica where numerous projects are expected over the next decade,” Godwin said.

The survey also asked residents to rank various institutions and found that the building and construction trades had the most trust with 73 percent of respondents while the United States Environmental Protection Agency was trusted by 46 percent, the least.

Among the findings

∫ 72 percent of those polled trusted industries operating in the area and 66 percent trusted oil and natural gas industry. Older residents were the most trusting.

∫ 25 percent knew someone working in oil and natural gas.

∫ Oil and natural gas are the sources that would give America the best chance at energy self-sufficiency, 33 percent, the highest response rate for any source of energy.

∫ 28 percent opposed hydraulic fracturing while two-thirds were in support.

∫ 83 percent support increased production of oil and natural gas.

∫ 89 percent agree developing oil and natural gas resources makes the United States less dependent on foreign oil.

∫ 79 percent agree oil and natural gas development has created new jobs and economic growth and provided tax revenue for schools, roads and first responders.

∫ 43 percent believe human activity is a direct cause of global warming.

∫ 69 percent agreed with the statement that the oil and natural gas industry is committed to not only the health and safety of its employees and contractors, but also the people of the communities in which it operates.

∫ 40 percent believe energy companies place a priority on hiring local labor.

The survey questioned residents 18 and older and had a margin of error of 4 percent. The political party registration was 46 percent Democratic, 39 percent Republican and 15 percent independents.