Pew Poll: Americans Have Complex Attitudes About Energy
Friday Sep 27, 2013  
Pew Poll: Americans Have Complex Attitudes About Energy

No country uses more energy than the United States. However, the result of a new poll results from the Pew Research Center shows that energy use that doesn’t prevent Americans U.S. from feeling ambivalent about energy issues.

On the one hand, Americans are against hydraulic fracking. Forty-nine percent of poll respondents oppose it, compared with 44 percent who favor it. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents also favor increased development of wind, solar and other alternative energy sources, while 34 percent are against increased renewable energy development.

On the other hand, however, Pew found 65 percent of survey respondents strongly support approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline by 65 percent – while 36 percent are against Keystone being approved. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents also support more offshore drilling, while 40 percent say they were against an increase in drilling.

This complexity and ambivalence shows up in the poll results on other energy-related topics. Americans drive more miles than do people in any other country, and comparatively few Americans regularly use mass transit. However, Americans, by a margin of 67 percent to 29 percent, say they favor spending more money on mass transit. On the topic of fuel standards, those polled support laws requiring better vehicle fuel efficiency by 73 percent to 25 percent.

Regarding nuclear power, 58 percent of those polled are against it, while 38 percent favor increasing nuclear power use.

It might not be surprising that there are political and even gender differences on the issues. For example, 54 percent women surveyed said they are opposed to the increased use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, with 38 percent in favor of more fracking. Fifty-one percent of men said they favor increased fracking activity; 44 percent of men surveyed were opposed to more fracking.

Political differences on fracking closely follow gender differences. Republicans support more fracking by a margin of 58 percent to 36 percent, while Democrats oppose more fracking by 59 percent to 33 percent. And while Democrats support the Keystone XL Pipeline by a margin of 51 percent to 43 percent, support from Republicans is much stronger, with 82 percent favoring it, and only 13 percent opposing it.

While the country has been experiencing a real energy boom, only 48 percent of those polled knew that U.S. energy production was up, and only 34 percent correctly attributed the boom to oil and gas exploration. And while those who were polled were by a small margin against the increased use of fracking, it was fracking that helped to push U.S. crude output to an average 7.6 million barrels of oil per day for August. That was the highest monthly output level since 1989, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its Sept. 10 Short-Term Energy Outlook.

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