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