Pain at the Pump

Americans cite gas prices as top economic concern and want the government to take action on fuel efficiency and alternative energy.

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Americans are becoming increasingly likely to say they’re being affected by rising gasoline prices. In a mid-March CNN poll, 72 percent said recent gasoline price increases were causing financial hardship to them or their families. That’s up from 63 percent last November.

An early March NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows the same trend. Today, 65 percent say that the price of gasoline and home heating oil is affecting them “a great deal,” up from 51 percent last December. That 65 percent figure is higher than any other economic problem asked about in the poll, including the cost of groceries and the cost of health care.

Recent data also show that Americans have some clear ideas about long-term solutions to the problem of energy supply. In a late February Pew poll, 90 percent agreed that the government should require better fuel efficiency for cars, trucks, and SUVs; 81 percent thought the government should increase federal funding for research on wind, solar, and hydrogen technology; and 72 percent said the government should spend more on subway, rail, and bus systems.


Given the pain Americans are now feeling at the pump, now might be a good time to move forward some of these excellent long-term ideas for dealing with America’s energy problems. The public, by these data, would be quite supportive.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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