By David DeKok
HARRISBURG Pa. (Reuters) - Pennsylvania voters are in favor of using the fracking technique to produce natural gas in the state, but oppose Republican Governor Tom Corbett's plan to drill under state parks and forests, a Quinnipiac University poll revealed on Friday.
Some 58 percent of the state's voters support fracking, a process in which rock formations are cracked and infused with chemical-laced water to extract natural gas. Thirty three percent oppose it.
But a similar majority, 57 percent, said they would oppose fracking under state parks and forests, with 36 percent supporting the idea. Opinion is split largely along party lines, with 71 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Independents opposed, and 58 percent of Republicans in favor.
"People in Pennsylvania have a high regard for the natural gas industry," said Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College. "But they want it done in an environmentally sound way."
Some 39 percent of voters said Corbett's executive order of May 23 allowing park drilling would make them less likely to vote for him when he seeks re-election in November.
The order is also under attack in the state’s Commonwealth Court, where a judge is expected to rule later this month on a petition from a coalition of conservation groups to stop the drilling with an injunction.
Corbett is counting on $75 million from the drilling to help get the state out of a budget hole in the coming fiscal year.
His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the poll results.
Quinnipiac said the poll of 1,308 registered voters was conducted from May 29 to June 2. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)