Support for drilling grows

03 22, 2012 by Daily Advertiser

Support for increasing offshore oil and gas drilling is growing among Americans, a national survey released this week suggests.

Maybe it's the rising cost of gasoline or the rhetoric being batted around during the presidential race, but a survey of 1,503 adults suggests a 10 percent rise in the past year of those who think expanding the exploration and production of oil, natural gas and coal should be the nation's more important energy priority.

The survey also suggests more than twice as many favor increased offshore drilling as an energy policy, with 65 percent supporting it to 31 percent opposing it.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conducted the interviews of U.S. residents by land line and cellphone between March 7 and March 11. Results were published in the report, "As Gas Prices Pinch, Support for Oil and Gas Production Grows."

The survey results show more Americans still think alternative energy development should be a higher priority than oil, gas and coal production.

The Pew Research Center survey found 52 percent of those responding believe the more important priority for addressing the U.S. energy supply is through development of alternative energy such as wind, solar and hydrogen, with only 39 percent supporting the expansion of oil and gas and coal as the greatest priority.

Still, the results suggest a 10 percent shift over the past year in attitudes toward oil and gas production, up from only 29 percent in 2011.

"Support for expanding production of oil and other traditional sources has increased among most demographic and political groups and the shift among Republicans has been particularly pronounced," the Pew Research Center report notes.

A year ago, Republicans were fairly evenly divided on how to address the nation's energy supply, with 47 percent saying developing alternative sources was most important and 44 percent saying expanding oil, coal and natural gas was more important.

But this year, only 33 percent of Republicans said development of alternative energy is most important while 59 percent said expanding oil and gas is more important, the survey suggests. By comparison, 50 percent of Democrats support additional drilling while 64 percent of Independents favor it.

Traditional energy sources were a priority especially among conservative Republicans, with increasing numbers of westerners and older Americans support it as a priority for U.S. energy policy.

But Americans are split on whether the federal government should continue to provide tax cuts to energy companies for oil and gas exploration. The Pew study shows 46 percent favor tax cuts for oil and gas exploration while 50 percent are opposed, about the same as the 2008 survey results.

The Pew Research Center describes itself as "a nonpartisan fact tank that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The center conducts public opinion polling, demographic studies, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. It does not take positions on policy issues."