Main content area

Putting on partisan glasses: Political identity, quality of life, and oil and gas production in Colorado

Malin, Stephanie A., Mayer, Adam, Crooks, James L., McKenzie, Lisa, Peel, Jennifer L., Adgate, John L.
Energy policy 2019 v.129 pp. 738-748
drilling, energy, oils, politics, quality of life, residential areas, surveys, Colorado
Unconventional oil and gas technologies—such as hydraulic fracturing—have drastically increased the volume of oil and gas produced in the U.S., while simultaneously bringing drilling closer to residential areas. We examine quality of life impacts of unconventional oil and gas production, arguing that how people perceive its local effects is rooted in their political identities. Using survey data from three northern Colorado communities, we employ counterfactual mediation methods to understand relationships between political identity, perceived socio-environmental and community changes from oil and gas development, and self-reported quality of life. We find significant differences in how people perceive local development based upon political identity, whereby Tea Party supporters see little negative impact, and in turn are likely to believe that local development improves their quality of life. At the other extreme, Democrats perceive more negative community changes from oil and gas development and are more apt to believe that it reduces their quality of life. Republicans who do not support the Tea Party and political independents hold more mixed views. Overall, our analysis suggests that people's perceptions of local energy development and how it matters for their quality of life is, to some degree, a function of their political identities.