Americans will likely take their views on energy issues to the voting booth this November, according to a new national poll by The University of Texas at Austin. The survey found that 65 percent of respondents considered energy to be an important presidential issue.
The results suggest that overall, consumers favor policies that would increase domestic energy production. Fifty percent of respondents said they would likely vote for a presidential candidate who approved construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, and 46 percent said that they would support a candidate willing to expand offshore oil drilling along the Gulf Coast. But only twenty percent of participants said that they would likely vote for a presidential candidate who supported eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Natural gas and renewable energy appear to have a strong base of support among potential voters: 61 percent of poll participants said they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who expanded natural gas development, while 59 percent stated they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported additional financial incentives for renewable technology companies.
The results offer a glimpse into how Americans think about environmental and energy issues more broadly. Sixty-five percent of participants said global climate change is happening, while 22 percent say it’s not. Of those who believe climate change is taking place, 70 percent blame deforestation and 65 percent cite fossil fuels as the most significant contributing factors.
Thirty percent said that they are willing to pay much higher prices to protect the environment, an 8 percent drop from a similar energy poll conducted last fall. Fifty percent of respondents said that they would not describe themselves as environmentalists, while 37 percent called themselves “passive” environmentalists. A small slice of those questioned – just 8 percent – characterized themselves as “active” environmentalists.
Participants were also asked to share their thoughts on safety concerns linked with hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the drilling process used to get to hard-to-reach natural gas and oil. Thirty-eight percent of respondents favored more regulation of the fracking industry, while 14 percent believed the industry as it stands today is over-regulated. Twenty-two percent believe existing regulations are sufficient but require better enforcement, while 62 percent of respondents admitted they were either unfamiliar with or had never heard of hydraulic fracturing.
The polling group – which was developed by the McCombs School of Business’ Energy Management and Innovation Center at the University of Texas at Austin - consulted 2,371 individuals from March 5-16, 2012. The group weighted its data using U.S. Census Bureau figures, as well as propensity scores, to ensure the sample’s composition reflected the actual U.S. population.
You can visit www.utenergypoll.utexas.edu to watch a webcast of a presentation of poll findings and charts of the results.