California may be on the verge of an oil-drilling boom powered by hydraulic fracturing, but a new poll shows more than half of respondents have serious questions about using high-pressured water, chemicals and sand to blast oil out of California’s Monterey Shale formation.

A drilling rig in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation (Scott Detrow)

Fifty-one percent of the people who responded to the Public Policy Institute of California’s latest survey said they oppose fracking, a key aspect of the horizontal drilling boom that has pumped millions of dollars into the economies of  North Dakota, Pennsylvania and other states in recent years, but also has been linked to environmental damage and water well contamination.

While more than half of respondents oppose fracking, 35 percent support the controversial technique and 14 percent just aren’t sure.

That’s a much different result than a nationwide survey found earlier this year when it asked the same question. PPIC  President Mark Baldassare said the California poll used the same wording as the March Pew survey, which showed 48 percent of respondents supporting fracking, compared to 38 percent opposing it.

Fifty percent of respondents want tighter regulation. (PPIC)

“Californians are notoriously more likely to be in favor of environmental protection,” said Baldassare.  “And in this poll, Californians are more likely than the rest of the nation to oppose fracking.”

The poll comes as the Brown administration and state lawmakers weigh tightening California’s drilling rules and adding regulations specifically addressing hydraulic fracturing. The PPIC poll shows half of Californians support tighter rules. In fact, more than 60 percent of people who want to see more drilling are in favor of stricter regulation.

PPIC surveyed 2,103 California residents over a 15-day period. The phone interview-based survey has a 3-point margin of error.

Poll: Majority Of Californians Oppose Fracking 1 August,2013Scott Detrow



Scott Detrow

Sacramento bureau chief Scott Detrow covers state government, politics and policy for KQED News and its statewide news program, The California Report.

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