Americans Place Priority On Environmental Protection

Voters in the United States want an energy plan that strongly endorses measures to develop renewable energies and enhance conservation, according to a recent poll.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-06-22 [SolarAccess.com] Voters in the United States want an energy plan that strongly endorses measures to develop renewable energies and enhance conservation, according to a recent poll. The League of Conservation Voters Education Fund polled 1,000 likely voters in late May, using the Democratic polling firm of Greenberg-Quinlan Research and the Republican firm of The Tarrance Group. The results of the nation-wide survey of voter attitudes about energy and environment issues currently before Congress were released on June 11. American voters place a high priority on strong environmental protections and are unwilling to compromise on existing environmental regulations in spite of uncertainty about energy and the economy in general, according to the survey. Voters reject the notion that a strong economy must be sacrificed in order to have a clean environment and favor the environmental position regardless of economic counter-arguments. The respondents want an energy plan that does more than increase production of oil and coal, and strongly endorse measures aimed at enhancing conservation, efficiency and the development of renewable fuels. The margin for alternatives is 15 to 19 percentage points over those who support more production. “Renewable energy sources are definitely part of the equation for voters, who largely reject the notion that these energy sources are not ready to provide energy,” says the report summary. “The public believes by a wide margin that we should focus on renewable energy sources now and move away from a reliance on oil and coal.” Fifty-three percent said “we need to focus on renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and other new technologies to meet America’s energy needs. It’s time to move away from our reliance on energy sources from the past like oil and coal and invest in newer, cleaner, and smarter energy sources.” Thirty-four percent said renewable energy “offer hope for America’s energy future, but they currently supply only a small fraction of our energy needs. We are years away from a time when they will fulfill our energy needs. Until then, we must rely on current energy sources such as oil and coal to meet our needs.” Independents and younger voters, along with Democrats, are particularly supportive of making the development of renewable sources of energy, the report notes. Support for environmental protections extends to the national energy plan of President Bush, and one in three give him credit for a good job on both energy and the environment. Equal numbers (35 percent each) support and oppose his energy plan when no details are mentioned. When the program is described, opposition grows to 48 percent, while support grows to 44 percent. Much of the increased opposition comes from Democrats, while more Republicans embrace it. Forty-three percent believe the environment has worsened over past years, compared to 34 percent who say things have stayed the same and 20 percent who believe it has improved. Sixty-nine percent support either stronger environmental laws or stricter enforcement of existing laws; 62 percent oppose oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and 57 percent support reductions in carbon emissions that cause global warming compared with 29 percent who do not. A plurality believes the economy will worsen in the coming years, but respondents still want more, not less, funding for environmental protections and stricter enforcement of environmental laws. Almost half oppose the concept that environmental regulations should be streamlined in order to maintain a strong economy and create jobs. When asked if they support a balanced energy plan that emphasizes efficiency and conservation and protects the environment, 54 percent agree versus 38 percent opposed. When asked to choose between efficiency or production, respondents were 50 to 27 percent.
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