The North Carolina Public Opinions on Fracking Survey: Developing an Instrument for the Assessment of Beliefs about Fracking Outcomes

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Title: The North Carolina Public Opinions on Fracking Survey: Developing an Instrument for the Assessment of Beliefs about Fracking Outcomes
Author: Grisle, Sonja
Abstract: Abstract GRISLE, SONJA YVETTE. The North Carolina Public Opinions on Fracking Survey: Developing an Instrument for the Assessment of Beliefs about Fracking Outcomes Recent media attention has focused on the risks and benefits that hydraulic fracturing poses to society, the environment, and human health. These specific risks and benefits provide focal areas for political officials, researchers, and industry workers to improve public awareness and understanding. This study details the development of a survey instrument to collect data on the public’s beliefs about the potential outcomes of fracking in North Carolina. The goal was to understand what the public perceives as risk and benefit, identify knowledge gaps, and ascertain if residents of counties targeted for future drilling have differences in opinion as compared to residents of counties where drilling is unlikely to occur. Described here are the development, pilot testing, administration details, and some results for the Public Opinions on Fracking Survey conducted with a random sample of registered voters from 20 counties in North Carolina. The key survey Likert-type facets on risks and benefits were psychometrically sound with Cronbach’s alphas of >0.9, indicating an excellent internal consistency for instrument reliability. Facet means for benefits reflect that control and study county respondents similarly ranked benefits. More substantial differences were noted in the facet means between the two groups for risks for those living near drilling sites and potential risks associated with adverse impact to the environment. The survey results showed most respondents highly rank water-related risks associated with hydraulic fracturing and identified the most widely recognized benefit was a financial benefit for gas companies. In addition, most respondents agreed that more research is needed on fracking to better understand the potential risks. The survey is a useful tool in capturing the public’s beliefs about fracking risks and benefits and in exploring these beliefs to address fears and misinformation among the general public. Moreover, the survey has the potential to be used to capture perceptions in areas other than North Carolina. While the study results were collected in North Carolina, they can also, with caution, be applied to other areas for useful data collection on this and similar topics.
Date: 2014-08
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.4/8297


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