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New Study: The More Americans Know About Fracking, the More Polarized Their Views Get

1 min. read

Here at Scaling Green, we live and breath energy issues.  Presumably, the same is true of people who read blogs like Scaling Green. Yet in the nation as a whole, that's most certainly not the case.  For instance, take the controversial, "hot" topic of natural gas fracking. A new study by Yale and George Mason University has some findings those of us who follow energy issues closely might find surprising. For instance:

  • "Fifty-four percent of Americans have heard nothing at all or "only a little" about fracking. Twenty-two percent have heard "some." Only 9% have heard "a lot.”

Of those who've heard about fracking, it appears that the more knowledge they have, the stronger their views.

  • Among the small percentage of Americans who know "a lot" about fracking, views are strongly polarized, with 34% strongly opposing it and 30% strongly supporting it.
  • In contrast, among those Americans who have heard nothing at all about fracking, only 3% strongly oppose it and only 6% strongly support it.
  • Among those Americans who have heard "only a little" about fracking, 10% strongly support it and 5% strongly oppose it.

Also of interest:

  • "Support/opposition to hydraulic fracturing varies by gender, age, political party, geographic region, and familiarity with the issue. In general, respondents who are female, younger, and liberal are more opposed. Those who are male, older, and conservative are more supportive."

The bottom line, though, is that only a small minority of Americans know "a lot" about this important energy and environmental issue, with most not having much awareness or strong opinions about it at all.  And to the extent people become more knowledgeable about fracking, their views likewise become more polarized. These findings might be surprising to those of us who live and breath this stuff, but it's a reality that energy communicators need to be aware of.