By Marc Kovac
and Karl Henkel
State Rep. Robert F. Hagan on numerous occasions has said he wants to slow down natural-gas and oil exploration in Ohio.
According to a new poll, most Ohioans agree.
A new survey released Thursday by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute showed mixed feelings about fracking among respondents.
The poll found that 72 percent want horizontal hydraulic fracturing activities to cease until further studies are completed on the potential impacts.
“I think that this poll cries out for reform and it cries out for a moratorium,” Hagan told The Vindicator Thursday.
Fracking is a process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted into rocks thousands of feet below the ground to unlock natural gas and oil.
“I cannot dismiss the fact that the polling indicates that it’s 3 to 1 in support of more study,” said Hagan, who proposed legislation Thursday calling for a moratorium on brine-injection wells until Jan. 1, 2015, after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concludes its study on the environmental effects of fracking.
Brine-injection wells are a disposal method for brine, a salty, liquid byproduct of gas and oil drilling, including fracking.
About 43 percent of those polled believe fracking will damage the environment, versus 16 percent who said the opposite and 40 percent who said they did not know.
“Ohio voters are conflicted on hydro-fracking,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the polling institute, said. “They recognize the economic value of drilling for fossil fuels in the state, but are worried about potential environmental risks of the specific technique — hydro-fracking.”
The poll found that a majority of respondents (64 percent) believe the economic benefits of fracking outweigh the environmental concerns.
Also, 85 percent think the industry will create jobs for Ohioans.
Many Ohioans, however, lack any knowledge of the fracking process, according to the poll.
Forty percent of respondents have not “heard or read anything” about fracking.
A representative for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a drilling advocate and a beneficiary of oil and gas campaign contributions, declined comment.
Connecticut-based Quinnipiac regularly gauges Ohioans’ opinions on political candidates, office-holders and issues. It polled 1,610 registered voters over the past week on a variety of issues, including fracking, abortions and Ohio’s U.S. Senate race.
The results have a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.