The results of a new opinion poll, dubbed “Bean Poll” because opinions were expressed by placing dried beans in jars, seem to show a solid support for protecting and continuing Social Security. Beyond checking the pulse of area citizens, the purposes of this opinion poll —and a second one dealing with natural gas concerns — are to stimulate thinking and discussion about current issues and to promote awareness that contributes to intelligent voting and good citizenship.
These new “Bean Polls” were conducted at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival on September 23 - 25 by Ohio Valley PEACE with about 200 people participating. Similar “Bean Polls” were conducted at the Pumpkin Festival for the previous eight years. While Festival visitors were invited randomly to participate, those doing so volunteered. The results of these informal polls do give an indication of the sentiment of folks in this area, though a scientifically designed poll might give more accurate numbers.
Each opinion poll consisted of six questions, attached to pairs of mason jars. Participants chose a response to the question by dropping a bean in one of the jars.
One poll, dubbed “THE BUDGET DEFICIT?” gauged participants’ attitudes toward federal budget cuts. The questions, with the response percentages, are:
1. In order to help balance the budget, should taxes be raised on billionaires? (79% yes, 21% no)
2. Should Social Security be privatized in the stock market? (11% yes, 89% no)
3. To help balance the budget, should spending on wars be reduced? (71% yes, 29% no)
4. Should the age to collect Social Security be raised to 68? (19% yes, 81% no)
5. Should the government pay back the $2.4 trillion owed to the Social Security Trust Fund? (97% yes, 3% no)
6. Is it right to borrow from the Social Security Trust Fund to justify tax cuts for the rich and then threaten not to pay it back? (4% yes, 96% no)
The second “Bean Poll” conducted at the Ohio Valley PEACE booth at the recent Pumpkin Festival was named “What About Fracking?” and asked six questions. The first three questions probed people’s knowledge about the law, while the others asked for opinions:
1. If you don’t sign a lease, can the gas be taken from your land without compensation or permit? (47% yes, 53% no)
2. Is fracking fluid exempt from regulations in the Safe Drinking Water Act? (43% yes, 57% no)
3. Is the gas industry required to reveal the chemicals used in hydraulic fracking? (35% yes, 65% no)
4. Should we be concerned about the possibility of water/air contamination from fracking? (88% yes, 12% no)
5. Is it likely to be harder or easier to sell your home or property after leasing? (94% harder, 6% easier)
6. Will oil/gas drilling be a short or long term solution to our employment and energy needs? (76% short, 24% long)
After participants finished answering the “Bean Poll” questions, they received a sheet documenting the correct answers to the first three questions.
1. Answer: No
The ODNR Fracking Fact Sheet says: “If your property is needed to complete a drilling unit and you elect not to lease, there is a provision in Ohio law that allows the producing company to apply for a mandatory pooling order to meet state spacing regulations. If approved, mandatory pooling includes your property in the unit and you receive your proportionate share of the landowner royalty as though you had leased, but there is no lease agreement between you and the company.”
2. Answer: Yes
“In 2005, Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. That law allows the EPA to regulate the injection of hazardous fluids into underground wells, a practice widely used to dispose of drilling wastewater. . . But the oil and gas industry lobbied to protect fracking from such regulation . . .”
3. Answer: Not in Ohio.
“. . . regulations allow companies to keep proprietary chemicals secret from the public and, in some states, [including Ohio] from regulators. . . . So far, more than 40 oil and gas companies are voluntarily disclosing some of their chemicals on the FracFocus web site.”