A hefty slice of Americans support local control over hydraulic fracturing, according to new University of Texas at Austin survey.
Of Americans familiar with the controversial method of bolstering oil and gas production, 58 percent said that cities should be able to ban its use within their borders, while just 25 percent said local governments should not wield that authority, according to the annual UT Energy Poll, whose results were made public Wednesday.
“At present, it appears a large majority of Americans think cities should have the right to decide if they want to ban fracking locally,” Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of the poll, said in a statement.
Researchers conducted the nationwide online survey between March 4 and March 13. The data were weighted to ensure an accurate sample, the university said.
Of 2,078 respondents, just 44 percent said they were familiar with fracking, with broader opinions on the practice split: 44 percent of that segment opposed the practice while 42 percent supported it.
Of course, the United States of America is not the Republic of Texas.
Legislation that would bar Texas cities from banning fracking and limit local control over other oil and gas activities is sailing through the Legislature. Rep. Drew Darby’s House Bill 40 – known as the “Denton fracking bill” – easily cleared the House earlier this month and is scheduled to get a Senate committee hearing on Thursday.
Intended to clarify where local control ends and Texas law begins, the bill is the most prominent of the flurry of measures filed in response to the North Texas town's vote to ban hydraulic fracturing within city limits.
Denton’s fracking ban, approved in November, also faces tough legal challenges.
Political ideology appeared to be a key driver of Americans’ views on fracking, with Republicans far more likely to support it than Democrats. The same held true with other energy issues, according to the data.
The survey also gauged Americans’ opinions on a wide range of other topic, including renewable energy, nuclear power, gas prices, water conservation, energy efficiency and the Keystone XL pipeline.
The university launched its energy poll in 2011 to “provide an objective, authoritative look at consumer attitudes and perspectives on key energy issues,” it said in a news release. See the full results here.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.