The people of Pennsylvania, by a large margin, like the presence of the natural gas industry in the state. They just are concerned that the drilling be done in an environmentally safe manner.
Those are the hardly surprising in our view findings of a Franklin and Marshall College poll that found that 64 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly favor the gas drilling industry compared to 27 percent who somewhat or strongly oppose it. In the same poll, 37 percent also felt that potential environmental risks could outweigh the economic benefits of drilling and 68 percent somewhat or strongly oppose drilling in state-owned forests.
The poll of 580 registered Pennsylvania voters shows us that the state's residents have perspective that goes beyond special interest strong-arming. For years, residents have been hit with saturation level commentary, particularly from environmental interests.
What they've determined, much to their credit, is that safe Marcellus Shale gas drilling has an incredible economic benefit for the state. But they also recognize that the drilling can't be done with environmental recklessness.
That's a lot more credible, mature view than the kneejerk drilling-is-evil propaganda that gets fed to much of the state on a daily basis. Economic benefits and environmental safety need not be mutually exclusive elements of the drilling.
The same can be said, we might add, for the Keystone Pipeline proposed in other parts of the country. Our state, and this country, needs economic progress combined with environmental respect. All it takes is the will, vision and flexibility of the private sector, our governments and our people.