Solar, Wind Power

Americans Want More Emphasis on Solar, Wind, Natural Gas

No fewer than two in three Americans want the U.S. to put more emphasis on producing domestic energy using solar power (76%), wind (71%), and natural gas (65%). Far fewer want to emphasize the production of oil (46%) and the use of nuclear power (37%). Least favored is coal, with about one in three Americans wanting to prioritize its domestic production.

Democrats’ and independents’ top choice is solar power, while natural gas places first among Republicans. Republicans and Democrats disagree most on the priority that should be given to oil as a future energy source — with 71% of Republicans wanting more emphasis placed on it, compared with 29% among Democrats. Republicans are also much more supportive than Democrats of coal (51% vs. 21%) and nuclear power (49% vs. 30%).

Where Americans live makes a difference in their views about which sources of domestic energy they want the U.S. to emphasize more. Those living in the South tend to be more supportive of traditional energy sources such as oil and coal than are those in other regions.

Still, for Americans in every region, including the South, solar power is the top choice, or is tied for the top spot, among the energy sources tested.

Implications

The United States has a great opportunity to accelerate its economic growth over the next several years by emphasizing and fully using its enormous energy riches to produce domestic energy. But there has been no consensus among Americans about how to optimize domestic energy production while preserving the environment.

Americans overall and across political and socioeconomic groups generally are most likely to call for more emphasis on solar and wind power — but these potential future sources of energy have a long way to go in terms of technology and affordability before they can significantly affect overall U.S. domestic energy production. On the other hand, Americans are sharply divided politically over achieving greater domestic energy production using more traditional energy sources such as oil, coal, and nuclear power.

This leaves natural gas, which 59% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and 79% of Republicans say should have more emphasis in the U.S. The technology exists to allow natural gas to become a more significant contributor to U.S. domestic energy production. But questions remain about the safety of “fracking technology” — meaning public support may not be enough to increase the U.S. emphasis on this energy source.

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