Nearly half of Americans (45 percent) are characterized as “very” or “somewhat” aware of the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) drilling used to tap natural gas supplies in the United States, according to an Infogroup/Opinion Research Corporation (Infogroup/ORC) survey conducted for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute (CSI). Among Americans who already are aware of fracking, more than two out of three (69 percent) are concerned about the drilling technique”s possible threat to clean drinking water, according to the study.

The U.S. fracking survey conducted by CSI was published along with two separate survey reports for more than 800 New York State/New York City residents and over 400 Pennsylvanians. The national and two state-specific reports are available at www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org.

Key findings of the survey include the following:
• More than three out of four Americans (78 percent) would “strongly” (49 percent) or “somewhat” (29 percent) support “tighter public disclosure requirements as well as studies of the health and environmental consequences of the chemicals used in natural gas drilling.” Fewer than one in five (16 percent) would oppose requiring such additional disclosure. More disclosure is supported across party lines by Republicans (74 percent), Independents (72 percent), and Democrats (85 percent).

• Over half of Americans (56 percent) who are very/somewhat aware of fracking think state and federal officials are either “not doing as much as they should” (42 percent) or “not doing anything at all” (14 percent) to “require proper disclosure of the chemicals used in natural gas drilling.”

Fracking, a technique used to extract natural gas from deep deposits, involves injecting large amounts of water combined with chemicals and sand into the ground to release the gas. While many industry experts say this is a relatively low-risk extraction method, others are concerned about the threat of contamination of drinking water supplies. Companies involved in shale gas exploration efforts in the United States have been reluctant to provide a complete list of the chemicals used in the fracking process.

The CSI survey was conducted November 26-28, 2010 among a sample of 1,012 adults, comprising 501 men and 511 women 18 years of age and older living in the United States. Completed interviews are weighted by four variables: age, gender, region and race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total population, 18 years of age and older. The margin of error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The full national, New York State and Pennsylvania survey results are available online at www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org.

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