Poll: Americans Prioritize Energy Development Over Environmental Concerns

Americans are more likely to say the U.S. should prioritize development of energy supplies than to say it should prioritize protecting the environment, according to a Gallup poll.

The current data represent a continuing shift in opinion toward energy production. Since 2007, when Americans' preferences for environmental protection were the greatest (58% to 34%), Americans' opinions have shown significant movement each year in the direction of prioritizing energy production.

This change has been evident among nearly every major demographic subgroup, although self-identified liberals have remained relatively steadfast in saying the environment should be a higher priority, according to the poll.

At the same time, Americans continue to advocate greater energy conservation by consumers (52%) over greater production of oil, gas, and coal supplies (36%) as a means of solving the nation's energy problems.

The movement toward pro-production attitudes comes at a time when Americans' concerns about the U.S. energy situation have subsided. Thirty-three percent of Americans describe the energy situation in the U.S. as ‘very serious,’ down from 42% last year and the lowest since 2005.

Additionally, 45% expect the U.S. to face a critical energy shortage in the next five years – down sharply from 62% in 2008, when gas prices were soaring, and the lowest Gallup has measured in the last 10 years.

One possible explanation for the greater public priority on energy production at a time of diminished concern about energy is that Americans typically become somewhat less likely to say they favor environmental protection during down economic times. In the same March 4-7 poll, Gallup also found a new high in the percentage of Americans favoring economic growth over environmental protection.

SOURCE: Gallup Â

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