Americans seem to be placing higher importance on energy policy, with 77% of those surveyed rating it either very important or important, according to the results of a recent poll by Harris Interactive.
Other top areas of policy concern included economic/budget (88%), tax (86%), jobs (86%) and healthcare (85%).
The importance given to energy policy increased with age. Ninety percent of Americans aged 67 years and older said energy policy was either very important or important, followed by 83% of 48-66 year olds, 74% of 36-47 year olds and 66% of 18-35 year olds.
Wind and solar were the energy sources identified as the most environmentally friendly, with only 4% and 5% of Americans, respectively, describing them as either very harmful or harmful to the environment. Hydropower was also seen as relatively low impact, with only 8% viewing it as harmful. There does appear to be some confusion, however, with one-fourth (25%) of Americans indicating they were not sure.
On the other end of the spectrum, nuclear power is the energy source Americans most frequently identified as very harmful or harmful to the environment (48%), followed by "clean coal" (34%).
The energy source Americans clearly feel least informed about is biomass, with just over 12% identifying it as very harmful or harmful, with over twice as many (27%) perceiving it as either not that harmful or not at all harmful and the majority (61%) unsure.
Falling in the middle of the spectrum was natural gas: Fewer than one-fourth of Americans (23%) said natural gas as either very harmful or harmful to the environment, while 40% rated it as not that harmful and roughly 19% said it is not at all harmful and an additional 18% were not sure.
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the U.S. between Sept. 17 and Sept. 24 among 2,562 adults aged 18 and over. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.