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The Poll Truth: Clean Energy Solutions Topple Drilling

By Stacy Feldman

Jul 28, 2008

Why does report that drilling for domestic oil has jumped to the top of Americans' energy priorities? Maybe because Pew didn’t ask respondents if they want the nation to invest in clean energy and efficient cars, instead.

So suggests (pdf) by Belden Russonello & Stewart, released last week.

Have a look at its striking results. Renewable energy was listed as an energy solution, and guess what? Americans chose it over drilling by an overwhelming 76 percent to 19 percent.

Here’s the exact question posed by Belden:

Looking to the future, which one of the following do you think should be a more important priority for government: Investing in new energy technology including renewable fuels and more efficient automobiles; or expanding exploration and drilling for more oil?

The results:

Invest in new energy technology -- 76%

Expand exploration and drilling -- 19%

Don’t know -- 5%

There’s more from Belden:

  • 63% said that the President's proposal to open up public lands to oil and gas drilling is "more likely to enrich oil companies than to lower gas prices for American consumers."
  • 66% said that "the small percentage of public lands still protected from oil drilling should remain off limits because they are valuable natural resources that cannot be replaced."
  • 54% of Americans do not see more drilling as a solution to high gas prices.


Pew, on the other hand, asked respondents the following:

What’s the more important priority for US energy policy today?

(1) Expand exploration, mining/drilling, construction of new power plants

(2) More energy conservation/regulation

(3) Don’t know

The results? Forty-seven percent rated energy exploration as the more important priority, up from 35 percent in February. Further, the proportion of individuals that said it's more important to increase energy conservation and regulation dropped by 10 points, from 55 percent to 45 percent.

So: Given the false choice between drilling and the overused concepts of "conservation and regulation" -- which are virtually meaningless in the mouths of media, politicians and polls -- drilling and new power plants won.

Big shock.

We’re in an energy crisis on top of a sagging economy and Americans want action, not talk.

However, add specific clean energy options to the list of solutions -- such as new energy technology and efficient cars -- and they blow drill, drill, drill out the water. It's the same story with polls on coal.

And there you have a classic case of polling noise.

In an election year when energy is the #1 issue, this is especially destructive. Keep in mind that the Pew poll was picked up by every news source and writer on both sides of the aisle, and set off alarm bells among clean energy advocates and the whole Democratic party.

There’s that the Dems are falling for it, ditching sound policy proposals for drilling to win votes.

Time for top pollsters to stop hiding behind a meaningless cloud of concepts. Present actual clean energy policy choices to respondents. That way, survey results represent the wishes of the American people, fairly.

Too much to ask?

Solar Panels on house

I just recently put solar panels on my home. It has saved me pretty much on my electric bill, and because I built and installed the panels myself I saved a lot of money on that end too.

A simple perspective...

The previous commenter made a lot of sense from the perspective that people take absolute positions on the topic of clean energy when a range of solutions exist. There is a big issue that US citizens need to face up to which is that they consume significantly more energy per head of population than any other country in the world. This cannot be ignored and is difficult for politicians and citizens to come to terms with because it implies short to medium sacrifices or additional costs to move to a better situation.

Only recently have solar

Only recently have solar panels on my house. It has saved me a lot in my electric bill, and because the panels built and installed myself I saved a lot of money on it too.

I just recently put solar

I just recently put solar panels on my home. It has saved me pretty much on my electric bill, and because I built and installed the panels myself I saved a lot of money on that end too.

Why does the fashionable top

Why does the fashionable top by the Pew Explore Displace inform that drilling for tame oil has jumped to the top of Americans' vigor priorities? Maybe because Pew didn't ask respondents if they essential the prohibitionist to expend in cleaned vim and effective cars, instead.

I'm glad to see so many

I'm glad to see so many people getting in on the "green" movement. I just recently put solar panels on my home. It has saved me pretty much on my electric bill, and because I built and installed the panels myself I saved a lot of money on that end too. I had so much fun learning how to do it (have never done it mysefl before, just read a lot on the topic in the books I found with the help of engine or heard the experience of my friends) it's really worth it! I wish more and more people got interested!


Its the best move if we do clean energy and getting more efficient cars. As hybrids comes into play. Now we have electric cars that runs on the street today.

offshore drilling

Ihave access to drilling experts who say they could be drilling and gettig oil in shallow water in 8 months and we could start to get energy effient in a short time these other people who say it takes years are talking about deep water drillig like 590,10,000 feet deep. these new teck cars are fine but not everbyody will be able to afford to buy and maintain them which will be very expensive and we need fueling stations which would take years to make available for all long distance driving and this will not happen for years to come, so oil is still the best alternativeas we already have our gas stations, that we need, we can't set up fueling in all of our stations becaue not enough cars will be available to be cost effective, so we are back to oiland gas again, lets get it going off shore and stop beatin it to death get real, im not buying a little car I keep my v8 and 28 mpg. and stay happy..

Clean Energy & New Oil Supply

Why does the debate between clean energy and new oil supply require everyone to select which camp they are in?!?

It is so common sensical that we should do both that I question the ideological sanity of any group that wants to force Americans down their preferred path.

Here's a common sense approach:

* Aggressive government policy support for Clean Energy. This must be Priority Number 1!

* As consensus occurs sufficiently to enact a carbon cap-and-trade system, then let's do it

* At the same time, allow the market to determine the price of oil. Stop restricting readily available supply (or perception of limited supply) such that you capriciously restrict supply and cause more pain.

The transition to renewable energy is going to be a gut wrenching journey, filled with pot holes, setbacks, and exciting progress.

It is abhorrent that the renewable energy crowd (myself included) so willingly chooses to further damage our economy during this transition, thereby causing middle class and lower income folks to suffer!

Most tellingly, it shows that you lack confidence in our ability to execute to a renewable energy vision without tying the hands of the poor and middle class behind our own backs.

Lacking confidence in a vision is a clear sign of weakness.

How sad when it doesn't have to be the case...

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