ORVI Insider #21: New Poll Shows PA Voters Want a Crackdown on Fracking


The  latest news, research, and analysis from the Ohio River Valley Institute.





July 29, 2021




By wide margins, Pennsylvania voters support a major crackdown on fracking. That’s according to a striking new poll from Data for Progress and the Ohio River Valley Institute, which shows widespread concern about the health and environmental impacts of fracking and general skepticism about its benefits. Research Fellow Eric de Place outlines key takeaways and implications from the poll in ORVI’s latest blog post, confirming that the Keystone State has officially soured on fracking.

With fracking falling by the wayside both culturally and economically, what’s next for the region? Senior Researcher Sean O’Leary has several ideas. Continuing coverage of O’Leary’s latest set of reports, Destined to Fail and The Centralia Model for Economic Transition in Distressed Communities, highlights the industry’s structural failures to generate jobs and prosperity across Appalachia and outlines a model for economic development that could.

And change is on the horizon. According to Senior Researcher Ted Boettner, federal clean energy and infrastructure investments could lay the foundation for a sustainable, 21st-century economy that builds truly democratic prosperity. Abandoned mine land (AML) and orphan well reclamation programs may be the first step toward that brighter future—but the federal infrastructure bill still needs more focus on key labor provisions and AML funding distribution, Research Fellow Eric Dixon writes

Here’s the latest from the Ohio River Valley Institute:



Research Spotlight

Pennsylvania Voters Support a Serious Crackdown on Fracking Operations


A new poll from Data for Progress shows that Pennsylvania voters across demographics are deeply concerned about the impacts of drilling—and a majority want to end fracking altogether. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; men and women; college- and non-college-educated voters; and every age group and region of Pennsylvania are concerned about air and water pollution. Voters in the Keystone State also view the clean energy industry and environmental advocates in much more favorable terms than they do fossil fuel-aligned interests.

More key takeaways:

  • Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s recommendations to restrict fracking operations are supported by overwhelming numbers of Pennsylvania voters. 

  • Subsidies for fossil fuels are very unpopular, but public spending on clean energy is very popular.
  • Large and bipartisan majorities are concerned about fracking waste and want the state to strengthen protections. 



View and download poll materials
Appalachia Poised to Be Part of a Shift to Clean Energy

The people of Appalachia need to be at the table, and not on the menu when it comes to a clean energy transformation, Senior Researcher Ted Boettner writes.

A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists and an external advisory committee, of which Boettner is a member, provides a blueprint for how to effectively address the climate crisis, advance social and economic justice, and drive system-wide change. Most importantly, the report emphasizes that policymakers should meaningfully engage with Appalachian communities that have been pushed aside, suffered disproportionately from pollution and poverty, or have worked in the fossil fuel sectors, to build a new and more equitable economy.



Read more


ORVI In the News

Greene County Works Toward Sustainable Economic Drivers (Pittsburgh Business Times) 

The reasons why the natural gas boom yielded an economic bust are structural, a set of new ORVI reports finds, but could be corrected with a tactical approach to economic development with investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. Greene County Commissioner Mike Belding, who joined an ORVI panel to discuss the reports’ findings, said that since taking office, he’s been talking to residents about what they want to see and the future. “When they get the facts, nobody can argue that we’re going to maintain our economic stability with single-source financial drivers,” Belding said.




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Opinion: What Would DeWine Do about ‘Shameful’ Environmental Reality Impacting Ohioans? (Columbus Dispatch) 

Belmont County resident Bev Reed wonders if Ohio Governor Mike DeWine would change his tune on oil and gas drilling waste if he knew the health risks associated with its transportation and storage. She also points to ORVI’s report on the fracking industry’s failure to produce job growth and prosperity in Ohio’s largest natural gas-producing counties. 




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Advocates Say Energy Efficiency—Not Gas—Offers Appalachia Best Economic Prospects (Energy News Network) 

Investment in energy efficiency can improve the quality of life for counties in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania that have had lots of natural gas activity, per ORVI’s latest reports, Kathiann Kowalski writes. “Energy efficiency work on heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and doors and windows tends to be labor-intensive,” according to Senior Researcher Sean O’Leary. Each dollar spent on energy efficiency measures generates about three to four times as many jobs as a dollar spent or earned in natural gas.




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Reports Highlight How To Repair the Appalachian Economy Without Relying on Fracking (Pittsburgh City Paper) 

According to new research from ORVI, economic decline “doesn’t have to be Appalachia’s destiny,” writes Kimberly Rooney. A set of new reports offers a potential solution to Appalachia’s continued slump that “delineates from the current strategy of relying on natural gas development.” Centralia, WA recently lost its coal mine and will soon lose its coal-fired power plant. Even with these setbacks — which are similar to things happening in Appalachian communities — Centralia has seen increases in its economy, jobs, and population; the rebound due to a $55 million economic and clean energy transition fund.




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What We’re Reading

WA Pennsylvania County Went From Bust to Boom Times with Natural Gas. Now, It’s Nearly Broke. (Spotlight PA)




Radically Rural: The Rush to Rural—What Comes Next? (Daily Yonder)




Residential Proximity to Oil and Gas Drilling Linked to Lower Birthweights in Newborns, Study Finds (Oregon State University)










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