Survey shows state gas drilling support stands at 58 percent

A recent Quinnipiac University poll revealed Pennsylvanians support drilling for natural gas by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

The survey found 58 percent of Pennsylvanians who are regular voters favor the drilling, a far cry from the supposedly divided state many have claimed the drilling is creating.

The poll did show that Pennsylvanians are discriminating about how the drilling is done, however. The majority of those surveyed are against drilling under state parks and forests.

A total of 57 percent of those surveyed opposed an executive order from Gov. Tom Corbett that expanded drilling connected to state parks and forests. Much of that 57 percent no doubt includes those who don’t want natural gas drilling, period.

But we wonder if this is more a matter of education than anything else.

Corbett’s order allows drillers to extract natural gas from rock below Pennsylvania’s state forests and parks, but it does not permit drilling-related construction that would disturb the parklands above ground.

So there are no visible scars on the forests and parks that would result from this drilling expansion.

Of course, environmental laws must be strictly enforced to make this natural gas extraction acceptable, below rock or not, in our view. But the measures to make that possible already are in place.

We are encouraged that the majority of those surveyed recognize the economic benefit of the gas drilling.

And we understand their natural reaction against drilling in state forests and parks.

We hope that some of that opposition will lessen as the expanded drilling areas proof safe and visually acceptable.