How do U.S. state residents form opinions about ‘fracking’ in social contexts? A multilevel analysis

Emily L. Howell, Nan Li, Heather Akin, Dietram A. Scheufele, Michael A. Xenos, Dominique Brossard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increased hydraulic fracturing operations (also known as ‘fracking’) in the U.S. have introduced a larger portion of the public to new and more extensive risks and benefits: from concerns of impacts on water quality and human health to benefits from increased oil and gas production and local economic development. As most policy affecting fracking occurs at the state-level, it is important to understand how citizens’ support for the technology is shaped by their states’ industrial, environmental, and socioeconomic experiences. Using a nationally representative survey, we construct a multilevel model to understand how individuals’ support for fracking varies as a function of both individual- and state-level characteristics. At the state-level, we find that people residing in states with a higher poverty rate and higher ground water use for public drinking supply are more likely to support fracking. At the individual level, the relationships between risk/benefit perceptions and support vary as a function of the state people live in. Additionally, the positive relationship between conservatism and support for fracking is stronger for people residing in states with a higher poverty rate. Based on these findings, we discuss the dynamics of public opinion in social contexts and implications on energy policymaking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-355
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Policy
Volume106
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Energy policymaking
  • Fracking
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Public perception
  • Risk communication

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