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September 24, 2008

IER National Survey Executive Summary

September 24, 2008
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On behalf of the bi-partisan polling team of Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates (R) and Frederick Polls (D), we are pleased to present the findings from a national opinion survey on attitudes on energy issues.

With two-thirds of Americans thinking gas prices and energy independence are a ‘very serious problems,’ our national survey indicates broad public desire for an increase in the domestic supply of oil and gas.  The survey shows strong support for expanded drilling off-shore, support found across partisan and geographic lines.  When you consider the majority view that energy exploration can be done in a way that protects the environment, it makes sense that the plan receiving the broadest support favors the most expansive approach to off-shore exploration.  Key data findings from the national survey follow:

  • Policy should encourage domestic exploration. Seven in ten Americans say Congress should set policy to make it easier to explore for oil and gas here in the U.S.
  • Increase off-shore exploration & drilling. Two-thirds of Americans (67%) favor increasing access to the waters off the coasts of the U.S. for oil exploration and drilling, while just 28% oppose it.  Majorities of Republicans (89%), Independents (64%) and Democrats (52%) favor this approach, as do residents of coastal (64%) and non-coastal (71%) states.
  • Let the states decide. Three specific approaches to off-shore exploration were tested independently in the poll: Letting the states decide; the Senate “Gang” plan; and the House Democratic Leadership plan (see wording below).  Of these, the greatest level of support is given to leaving the decision to drill up to the states.  Support for the ‘let the states decide’ approach was 15 percentage points higher than the House Democratic plan, and 21 percentage point higher than support for the Senate “Gang” plan.

offshore oil survey

  • The “Let States Decide” plan gets the highest level of support across all partisan groups, and is the only plan to receive majority support from Democrats and Independents.

offshore drilling by party

  • 50-Mile ban falters. The “House Democratic Plan”, with its 50-mile ban, loses considerable support when those who favor it are told “that roughly 80 percent or more of the offshore reserves that could be developed and brought to market fastest are found within 50 miles of the coast.” More than half (55%) of the “House Democratic Plan” supporters would now favor letting the states decide where drilling should be allowed off their coasts when they heard this information. Just one in eight of the original supporters of the “House Democratic Plan” would continue to support the 50-mile ban on drilling.
  • Drilling helps gas prices. The vast majority of Americans (70%) believe allowing the drilling ban to expire and putting the decision into the hands of the states will either decrease or stabilize gas prices.
  • Drilling that protects the environment. Broad support for off-shore drilling is matched by a majority of Americans (56%) who think off-shore drilling can be done in an environmentally friendly way. Just 38% feel it will harm the coastal environment.
  • Trust for industry, blame for Congress. By a 19 percentage point margin, Americans trust private industry (45%) more than Congress (26%) to make sure our current and future energy needs are met. On the other hand, by a 27 percentage point margin, most Americans see Congress (54%), rather than private industry (27%), as being most responsible for the current state of the nation’s energy situation. Given this sentiment, it is not surprising that more Americans support a drilling plan that removes Congress from the equation, and sends responsibility back to the states.

Additional Poll Findings

  • Most see 4 years from approval to oil. The majority of Americans (60%) say it should take up to four years from the time approval is given to drill off-shore to the time when actual oil production begins.
  • Do not believe “2 cents” argument. Most Americans (58%) do not believe the statement “Increasing domestic oil production will only lower gas prices by two cents.”
  • Gas Prices & Energy Independence outpace Climate Change and the Environment. While majorities of Americans all believe these are serious problems, significantly higher numbers of Americans say fuel prices (67%) and reliance on foreign oil (67%) are very serious problems, than are climate change (39%) and the environment (41%).

Click here for the full survey.


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