Public Opinion on Hydraulic Fracturing in the province of Quebec: A Comparison with Michigan and Pennsylvania

October 2014

This report summarizes main findings of a comparative survey project, with a focus on explaining why attitudes toward fracking in Quebec are markedly different than in Pennsylvania and Michigan. The report is divided into three main parts. First the distribution of opinions on shale gas across the three jurisdictions is explored. Next, the role of cultural predispositions is highlighted as a potential explanation for the observed differences in opinion across Quebec, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Finally, the potential for opinion change in light of new information is examined. Overall, evidence suggests that attitudes in Quebec are substantially more reticent than in Michigan and Pennsylvania when it comes to hydraulic fracturing (HF) in their province. This reticence is in part a reflection of different cultural orientations (or values) in the three jurisdictions, which are likely to endure. While the public in all three jurisdictions adjust attitudes to expert cues, attitudes in Quebec are unlikely to change to an extent that would lift support for HF to levels found in Michigan and Pennsylvania. To our knowledge, this is the first comparative survey of its kind, providing a comprehensive look at how the public in three jurisdictions with relatively large shale deposits thinks about the issue of hydraulic fracturing in their state or province.