By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Oil and natural gas production in Wyoming is supported by an overwhelming majority of state residents questioned in a statewide survey, including 68% of Democrats polled.
The biennial poll conducted in February, commissioned by the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, was designed to analyze oil and gas exploration attitudes among state residents.
PAW reported that of the 500 residents contacted in a random telephone survey conducted prior the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 88% approved of oil and natural gas production in Wyoming.
Of the Democrats surveyed, 68% said they approved of oil and gas production. In addition, 54% of the Democrats said they believe drilling efforts are compatible with nature recreation and preservation endeavors.
Of the voters identifying themselves as independent, 74% backed oil and gas production in the state, while 95% of Republicans polled voiced approval.
But viewpoints on current federal restrictions on the industry varied widely across party lines, according to the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5%.
Only 16% of Democrats questioned said there were too many regulations on oil and gas production. Another 38% said there were too few regulations and 39% stated the regulations were about right.
Among Republicans, conversely, 61% said restrictions on production were excessive, compared with just 5% complaining of too few, and 29% stating the restrictions are about right as they are.
In total, 51% of Wyoming voters from all party affiliations said restrictions on production were excessive, which PAW stated was a 19% increase from 2020.
Under the Biden Administration, new oil and gas leasing on federal lands has effectively halted and thousands of permitting requests are backlogged.
A majority of those questioned, 86%, agreed with the statement that oil and gas drilling supports the local economy, the survey said.
“The belief that local economies receive a great deal of benefit saw strong support across demographics including a plurality of registered Democrats and self-identifying liberal voters,” read’s PAW’s survey analysis.
“Seventy-four percent (74%) of voters agree that increasing the use of natural gas is the best way to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change without disruptions to everyday life,” the survey said, “while more than two-thirds of voters (68%) are unwilling to pay more for energy to curb climate change.”
Respondents to the poll, wrote PAW, were “a representative cross-section of likely voters in Wyoming” including 52% women, 48% men; 70% Republican, 16% Democrat, and 11% Independent/Other.