Data collected in a general population survey from a random sample of individuals in two counties located in the Barnett Shale region of Texas were used to empirically explore potentially problematic issues associated with unconventional natural gas development. Moderate support was found for the hypothesis that individuals residing in places with diverse levels of energy development exhibit dissimilar perceptions of potentially problematic issues. The results indicate residents of the county where the natural gas industry was more mature (Wise County) were significantly more likely than residents of the county where the natural gas industry was less established (Johnson County) to view one social and/or environmental issue more negatively and five economic and/or service-related issues more positively. Johnson County residents, however, were more likely than their Wise County counterparts to view two social and/or environmental issues as getting worse. These findings may prove beneficial to community leaders, government and regulatory agencies, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders, as well as the oil and gas industry in decision-making processes. The results may also serve as a foundation around which to design future studies to assess the objective social and environmental effects of unconventional energy development.

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