Comparing Public Opinion and Legislation on Fracking in Pennsylvania

May 2020
Anya Satyawadi

In recent years, natural gas production has increased greatly in the United States. This is, in large part, because of an attempt to decrease dependence on foreign energy sources. With increased use of natural gas comes the use of hydraulic fracturing, especially popular in states with large shale reserves like Pennsylvania. However, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a divisive issue that has separated many Pennsylvanians. The industry stimulates the economy within the state as well as provides thousands of jobs for Pennsylvanians. But, the environmental concerns regarding fracking worry many citizens of Pennsylvania. This paper seeks to decipher the relationship between the opinions of Pennsylvanians on the topic of fracking and the legislation passed by the Pennsylvania legislature by performing a content analysis. The content analysis focused on Letter(s) to the Editor from various Pennsylvania newspapers and legislation passed by the Pennsylvania legislature. The findings of this paper revealed that Pennsylvanians largely oppose fracking, while legislators largely support fracking. Water-related fracking issues are important to both Pennsylvanians and legislators. In Pennsylvania, there is a disconnect between the constituents and legislature on what the state should do about fracking, which is the larger issue that this paper demonstrates.