Americans Want Focus on Energy over Environment


For the first time in 10 years Americans believe that increasing energy supplies should be prioritized over the environmental conservation.

For the first time since the question was first asked by Gallup in 2001 – at which point 52% of respondents favoured environment over energy production – Americans are favouring themselves in the form of increased production of energy over a desire for increased protection of the environment.

Gallup conducted the poll of 1,014 American adults between March 4th and 7th, asking the following question;

Protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of limiting the amount of energy supplies — such as oil, gas and coal — which the United States produces (or) development of U.S. energy supplies — such as oil, gas and coal — should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.

The results showed that 50% of respondents favoured energy production over 43% favouring protecting the environment. This eclipses 2009’s 47% to 46% and is a massive reverse from the all time environmental high in 2007 of 58% to 34% favouring environmental protection over energy production.

The question came a few weeks prior to President Obama’s decision to allow oil and natural gas drilling along the Atlantic Coastline, the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the North coast of Alaska.

This comes out of the same poll that found Americans favoured economic growth over environmental protection. For the second year running, Americans who wanted to protect the environment (38%) were bullied into second by those who wanted more economic growth (53%).

The linkage between a downturn in the economy and peoples diminishing concern for the environment cannot be ignored. According to Gallup, “Since 2001, shifts in the percentages of Americans favoring the economy over the environment have mostly conformed with the trend in negative public perceptions about the economy.”

Statistics suggest, however, that though Americans are becoming more inwardly focused – wanting the government to focus more on them then on the environment in terms of increasing energy production and creating economic growth – they are not totally ignorant of the environment, although the same statistics show this selfishness growing year to year.

When asked if there should be more emphasis on energy production compared to energy conservation, 52% of responders favoured conserving existing energy supplies. However this is down 9 points from 2008, and more production of energy is up 7 points from the same year.

Additionally, 33% of Americans view the energy situation in their country as very serious (down from 42% in 2009), while another 54% see it as fairly serious (up from 51%).

Image Credit: Gallup

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