POLITICS
09/04/2019 17:22 EDT | Updated 09/04/2019 17:29 EDT

Voters Back Ban On Fracking, New Poll Finds

The results are a boon to Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker ahead of CNN's marathon of climate crisis town halls.

A plurality of registered voters support banning fracking, a new poll has found.

Nearly 46% of respondents said they’d back restrictions to prohibit the controversial oil and gas drilling technique, according to a survey by the progressive pollster YouGov Blue. Of that figure, 32% said they “strongly” favored a ban.

Meanwhile, just over 33% of voters polled opposed banning fracking, with slightly more than 22% saying they were “strongly” against the idea. Nearly 12% neither supported nor opposed a ban, and just over 9% said they were “not sure.” 

The partisan divide was more pronounced. Democrats supported the ban most, with 63% in favor, 19% against and another 19% unsure. Among independents, 44% supported a ban, 36% opposed it and 21% were undecided. Just 26% of Republicans backed a ban, while 24% were unsure and 50% opposed it.

Data For Progress
Support for a fracking ban, according to the poll.

The poll ― which Data for Progress shared with HuffPost on Wednesday ― was conducted last month among 1,380 voters, and findings for the entire sample group have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The survey prompted participants by listing the pros and cons of fracking. Noting that fracking fuels “one quarter of America’s energy production,” the question said fracking supporters “say it decreases electricity costs and reduces our dependence on foreign oil” while opponents “say that fracking pollutes local soil and water with known carcinogens and that we should invest in renewable energy instead.” The poll then asked: “Would you support or oppose banning the practice of fracking in the United States?”

The findings come just before 10 Democratic presidential candidates are slated to take part in a seven-hour CNN marathon of televised town halls on the climate crisis.  

Data For Progress
Support for a fracking ban, broken down by voters' party identification.

In a bid to set himself apart ahead of the forum, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a leading contender for the Democratic nomination, put out a statement reiterating his longstanding opposition to fracking.

Eight other Democratic contenders support fracking bans. That includes two whose polling made them eligible to participate in the forum ― Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), whose plan calls for “phasing out” fracking, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who embraced a full fracking ban this week after initially limiting her position to federally owned lands. 

“Even with strong counter-arguments, a fracking ban is popular with the American public,” Data for Progress co-founder Sean McElwee, whose left-leaning think tank commissioned the poll, said by email. “Every Democrat should support it.”

The results differ from past polls on fracking. In February 2018, the conservative-leaning pollster Rasmussen found 46% of likely U.S. voters favored fracking, while 39% opposed it and 15% were unsure. People living closer to fracking sites tended to favor the practice more, according to an Oregon State University study published last year. 

A study published earlier this year by researchers at more than a dozen environmental groups found that new U.S. oil and gas drilling, 90% of which involves fracking, is set to unleash 1,000 coal plants’ worth of climate pollution by 2050.  

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