Download PDF With the economy the top concern in Americans’ minds, have environmental and energy issues moved to the back burner?
AEI’s latest Public Opinion Study looks at polls on the environment, energy, global warming, and nuclear power. Among the highlights:
• No questions appear to have been asked during the 2012 campaign about whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would do a better job handling environmental issues. Only a few questions were asked about which candidate would do better on energy issues, and Americans were closely divided.
• Gallup questions on topics such as air and water pollution show public concerns have declined over the past 25 years. In 1989, 72 percent said they worried a great deal about the pollution of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Today, 46 percent give that response.
• A January 2013 Pew poll found that only 28 percent of Americans believe that dealing with global warming should be a top priority for President Obama and Congress. Global warming ranked last among the 21 issues Pew asked about.
• In March 2013, 66 percent told Pew pollsters that they favored building the Keystone XL pipeline, and 23 percent opposed. All recent polls show majority support for building the pipeline.
• When asked to choose, Americans prefer developing alternative energy sources over exploring and expanding traditional sources. In a February 2013 Pew poll, 54 percent preferred developing alternative sources such as wind, solar, and hydrogen technology. Thirty-four percent approved of expanding exploration and production of oil, coal, and natural gas.
• Fifty-eight percent supported expanding offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the US coast in an August–September 2012 Yale/George Mason poll. A clear majority of Americans believe nuclear power is safe, but 62 percent would not like a nuclear power plant in their community, according to a CBS survey.