Public split between clean energy and oil drilling

Americans are more likely to agree with Democratic calls for renewable energy investment and Republican calls for oil and gas drilling in response to high oil and gas prices, according to a new Yahoo News poll/ YouGov. But when forced to choose between the two approaches, they are equally torn.

The survey of 1,605 American adults, conducted April 19-22, found that the plurality of respondents agreed with both answers to inflation.

When half of the respondents were asked whether or not they agreed with the statement that “the United States should invest in accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to electric vehicles and energy sources ‘clean energy’, 43% agreed and 34% disagreed, with 23% unsure.

The other half asked the same question, but were told that Democrats were making that argument. This only slightly changed the result: 45% agreed, 35% disagreed and 20% were unsure.

A wind farm and a solar power plant

A wind farm and solar power plant in Kern County, California. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The GOP position elicited a similar response, albeit with slightly stronger support: 52% of respondents agreed that “the United States should facilitate oil and gas drilling offshore and on federally owned land, and approve more oil and gas”. pipelines”. Twenty-five percent disagreed, with the rest unsure.

When told that Republicans are promoting the approval of more oil and gas drilling and pipeline leases, support fell slightly: 49% were in favor, compared to 30% opposed.

The results may indicate that an “all of the above” energy strategy combining investment in renewable energy and increased fossil fuel extraction would win majority support. However, when asked which approach they preferred, the public was evenly split: 31% were in favor of drilling, 29% in favor of renewables and only 20% said both.

Asked to choose which of 10 issues is “the biggest problem facing America today,” 6% of respondents chose gas prices, while 33% chose inflation and 11% chose climate change.

With oil and natural gas prices soaring following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, the already contentious issue of energy policy has become even more contentious.

Natural gas is flared during an oil drilling operation

Natural gas is flared during an oil drilling operation in Midland, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

President Biden has proposed spending $550 billion over 10 years on subsidies for wind and solar power and the deployment of electric vehicles. An independent study found that these measures would reduce US oil consumption by more than double the amount the country imports from Russia. The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives passed the program as part of a broader package of domestic spending, but the unified Republican opposition and the reluctance of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of wealthy West Virginia coal and gas, blocked it. the Senate.

Congressional Republicans and conservative pundits have argued that Biden contributed to higher energy prices by halting the sale of new leases to drill oil and gas offshore and on federal lands. But energy experts say that because it takes years for a lease to produce oil, only a quarter of U.S. oil production is in federal territory and oil is traded around the world, the current lease has no effect on current prices.

Climate scientists also note that increasing the supply of fossil fuels in five or 10 years, when new leases will yield production, conflicts with the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Biden instead used more immediate measures to reduce gasoline prices, such as releasing 60 billion barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a four-site US government complex along the Gulf Coast. Last week, however, the Biden administration sold new oil and gas drilling leases due to a federal court injunction.

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