Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Poll: Americans Say Regulate Fracking More, Climate Change is Here

Photo by UPI/Gary C. Caskey /LANDOV

An aging tractor shares land with a oil drilling rig at a farm above the Niobrara oil shale formation in Weld County, Northeastern Colorado on May 30, 2012.

The latest University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll finds that a plurality of Americans oppose exporting natural gas; a majority say climate change is occurring; and in general are more concerned about the prices of gasoline and electricity than they are about carbon emissions.

The semi-annual poll, conducted online, asks a representative group of 2,000 Americans (based on Census data) how they think and feel about the energy issues of our time. This is the fourth wave of the poll, which began in 2011. Sheril Kirshenbaum, the poll’s director, says that political leanings seem to influence how Americans see energy. “There seem to be very strong differences between Democrats and Republicans,” Kirshenbaum says. “It’s coming to the point where if I know what your party affiliation is, I can usually guess where you fall on a lot of these topics.”

Democrats in the poll, for instance, tend to trust the scientific community when it comes to topics like hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” while Republicans are less likely to believe the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring.

Among the findings:

  • 73 percent said global climate change is occurring, while only 16 percent said it isn’t. That number has held steady since the last poll, which came as a bit of a surprise to Kirshenbaum. “Normally, after the winter, whenever there’s snow around the country, we expect those numbers to go down a bit.”
  • The number of Americans who say climate change is man made is increasing. “We saw record droughts over the summer, we saw very severe storms,” Kirshenbaum says. “I think there might be a sea change occurring, where more and more people are recognizing that things are different than they were just a few decades ago. And because of that, perhaps more open to changes in policy regarding climate change.”
  • As to what’s causing climate change, those polled listed deforestation, oil and coal as the biggest culprits.
  • In government spending, respondents said that energy and environment were some of the least important areas to use their tax dollars.
  • 40 percent said that U.S. energy production and consumption will have “about the same environmental impact” in the next year as it has in the past, while 42 percent said the impact will be higher.
  • A third of respondents said they’re “likely” to try to learn more about reducing their energy use.
  • Respondents were more concerned about the cost of gasoline and electricity than they were about the environmental impact of fracking and carbon emissions.
  • Respondents oppose and support fracking in roughly equal numbers, but a plurality said fracking needs more regulation. Their chief concern is water contamination. “They were less concerned about carbon emissions, which is a bit surprising,” Kirshenbaum says, “but that might be because it’s more of a complex topic.

Chart by UT Energy Poll

A few of the poll’s questions during this round dealt with water. 52 percent of respondents said the government “should do more” to prepare for future water needs, and 34 percent said a “significant increase” in how much water costs would lead them to reduce their use. (The same was true for reducing energy use.)

The next poll should be out this fall.


  • More accurate lede, Terrence: “The latest University of Texas at Austin poll of young radical environmentalists…”
    Yet another “poll” story that purports to present “facts” when in fact all you’re doing is reinforcing the anti-business rhetoric of radical environmentalists for an extremely progressive audience.

    • Thanks for reading, David! I’d point you to some info from the poll’s methodology:

      “Data from The University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll were weighted using U.S. Census Bureau figures, as well as propensity scores, to ensure the sample’s composition reflects the actual U.S. population.” In fact, 43 percent of those polled listed themselves as “not an environmentalist.”

      So I’m not sure where you’re getting that they only polled “young radical environmentalists”?

    • Kim Feil

      anti business is ignoring all the more plentiful and long term jobs in solar thermal…can do…

  • Guest


    All real evolution
    in nature is within limits. The genes already exist for micro-evolution
    (variations within a biological kind such as varieties of dogs, cats,
    horses, cows, etc.), but not for macro-evolution (variations across
    biological kinds such as from sea sponge to human). The unthinking
    environment has no ability to design or program entirely new genes. Only
    variations of already existing genes and traits are possible. A dog
    will always be a dog no matter how many varieties come into being.

    hope and assume that, over millions of years, random mutations (accidental
    changes) in the genetic code caused by radiation from the environment will
    produce entirely new genes for entirely new traits in species for natural selection to use, so that macro-evolution
    occurs. It’s much like hoping that, if given enough time, randomly
    changing the sequence of letters in a cook book will turn the book into a
    romance novel, or a book on astronomy!

    Another problem for macro-evolution is the issue of survival of the
    fittest. How can a partially evolved species be fit for survival? A
    partially evolved trait or organ that is not complete and fully
    functioning from the start will be a liability to a species, not a
    survival asset. Plants and animals in the process of macro-evolution
    would be unfit for survival.

    Imagine an evolving fish having part fins and part feet, with the
    fins evolving into feet. Where’s the survival advantage? It can’t use
    either fins or feet efficiently. These fish exist only on automobile
    bumper stickers!

    In fact, how could species have survived at all while their vital
    organs were supposedly evolving? Survival of the fittest (aka natural
    selection) may explain how species survive, due to minor variations and
    adaptations to the environment, but not how they originated. Natural
    selection doesn’t produce biological traits or variations. It can only
    “select” from biological variations that are possible. The real issue is
    what biological variations are possible, not natural selection.

    Genetic and biological
    similarities between species are no proof of common ancestry. Such
    similarities are better and more logically explained due to a common
    Genetic Engineer or Designer (yes, God) who designed similar functions
    for similar purposes in various species. Genetic information, like other
    forms of information, cannot arise by chance, so it’s more rational to
    believe that DNA or genetic similarities between species are due to
    intelligent design.

    What about “Junk” DNA? The latest science shows that “Junk DNA” isn’t
    junk after all! It’s we who were ignorant of how useful these segments
    of DNA really are. Recent scientific research published in scientific
    journals such as Nature and RNA has revealed that the “non-coding”
    segments of DNA are essential in regulating gene expression (i.e. how,
    when, and where genes are expressed in the body).

    All the fossils that have been used to support human evolution have
    ultimately been found to be either hoaxes, non-human, or human, but not
    human and non-human.

    All species in the fossil record and
    living are complete, fully-formed, and fully functional. There’s no
    macro-evolution in nature.

    Visit my newest Internet sites, THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION and WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS (2nd Edition)

    Babu G. Ranganathan
    (B.A. Bible/Biology)

    Author of the popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

    *I have given successful lectures
    (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before
    evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and
    universities. I’ve been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition
    of Marquis “Who’s Who in The East” for my writings on religion and

    • Gerald Mark Causey

      Religion was created by man, for man, and his gods are nothing more than trying to understand the unknown. When did man stop worshiping the moon, or the sun or the god of fertility? It was stopped when man began to understand what the moon was or how the sun came into being or how women got pregnant.
      Please tell me Mr Ranganathan, which of the modern day gods do you worship? One of the estimated 32,000 different forms of Christianity or one of the millions of Hindu gods, maybe you are Muslim and you are a member of one of the 73 Islamic sects? How does one know which one of the many man-made gods one should worship? Is your god kind and benevolent, or cruel and unforgiving? Maybe a little of both…. and why are ALL of these gods so illusive and so difficult (read impossible) to get any sort of definitive guidance. It is really difficult to get answers from an entity that only exists in one’s imagination.

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