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Public Opinion Snapshot: Public Wants Action on Energy and the Environment

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Last week, with the president in Europe for the G-8 conference, our weekly public opinion snapshot covered the public’s desire for serious action on global warming, the greatest threat to our environment. This week, as Congress debates energy policy, it’s worth stressing that the public’s environmentalist commitments extend to this area as well.

An April CBS News/New York Times poll collected a wide range of data that demonstrates these commitments. By an almost two-to-one margin (63 percent to 32 percent), the public endorses the idea that protecting the environment is so important that “requirements and standards cannot be too high” and that “continuing environmental improvements must be made regardless of cost.”


 

The public is also quite clear on its priorities when it comes to promoting energy conservation versus increasing the supply of oil, coal, and natural gas. When asked which of these should be the higher priority, the public chooses energy conservation by a very wide 68 percent-to-21 percent margin.

 

How about developing alternative energy sources? Here the public is almost unanimous (87 percent) that this would be a good idea because alternative energy is better for the environment, compared to just 9 percent who think it would be a bad idea because such sources “are too expensive and can be unreliable.”

 

The public is also virtually unanimous that the need to cut down on energy consumption and protect the environment means increased energy efficiency should be mandated for certain products. As the chart below shows, when it comes to automobiles, 92 percent now support such requirements.


 

Let’s hope that Congress takes these very clear and very strong public sentiments into account as it debates energy policy in the coming weeks.

For more information on the public opinion on this issue, see:

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund, women's issues)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention, the National Security Agency)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (energy and environment, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

 

This is part of a regular column: Public Opinion Snapshot

For more from the same column, click here