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Opposition grows when more wells are drilled in the vicinity, OSU-led study finds.

A new study led by an Oregon State University professor found that people living near oil and gas fracking wells tend to more supportive of the controversial drilling method — but that fades once the density of wells grows.

"The findings indicate that people who live closer to fracking sites may perceive economic benefits, but with a higher density of the wells, they may also notice the environmental risks and societal implications of fracking," said Hilary Boudet, assistant professor of climate change and energy at OSU.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves the combination of slant drilling and high-pressure injection of chemical fluids to loosen oil and gas from shale and other rock formations. The method has revolutionized the oil and gas industry, driving up the available supply of fossil fuels and driving down the cost due to the larger supply.

Fracking has also been linked to earthquakes and other environmental impacts due to the drilling. It's also blamed for expanding the use of fossil fuels, a major contributor to global warming.

The new study was published recently in Risk Analysis. Boudet led the study, with co-authors Chad Zanocco, a doctoral student at OSU; Peter Hose of Utah State University; and Christopher Clarke of George Mason University.

The researchers analyzed the results of a public opinion survey of nearly 20,000 people via the University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll, conducted between 2012 and 2016. Researchers compared the results to participants' zip codes, and a map of oil and gas well locations.

For an abstract of the study: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/risa.12989

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