RELEASE: CAP Poll Finds Fossil-Fuel Interests Dominate Agenda of New Congress, but Americans Favor Renewable Energy, Environmental Protections

Washington, D.C. — Although the new Congress has dedicated its first days to advancing the priorities of the fossil-fuel industry, new public opinion research commissioned by the Center for American Progress finds that Americans’ top priority on energy and environmental issues is to encourage the growth of renewable energy supplies.

The survey of 1,101 Americans also found strong opposition to several energy-related priorities that the new leadership of Congress is expected to pursue, including intense opposition to increasing oil exports, rolling back protections for clean air and drinking water, and attacks on public lands. Conducted by Hart Research Associates, a leading national research firm, the survey is the first major assessment of voter attitudes on the energy and environmental priorities that the 114th Congress and President Barack Obama are likely to pursue and debate.

“Americans are placing high value on environmental protections and on transitioning to renewable energy sources over the coming years,” said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates. “In this public opinion landscape, efforts in the new Congress to promote an anti-environmental agenda that benefits fossil-fuel corporations will be out of step with the priorities of most Americans.”

The survey finds that a majority of voters think that the United States should rely more on solar energy (80 percent of respondents) and wind power (73 percent of respondents), while relying less on energy from coal and oil  in the next five years. Additionally, a strong majority of voters support strengthening protections against the pollution of drinking water and air (91 percent of respondents), permanently protecting some public lands such as monuments, wildlife refuge areas, and wilderness (90 percent of respondents), and increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks (88 percent of respondents).

“The new Congress is already moving quickly on an agenda backed by fossil-fuel interests that would weaken protections for clean air and clean water, roll back investments in renewable energy, fast track exports of American oil, and prioritize special interest giveaways on America’s public lands,” said Gov. Ted Strickland, Counselor to the Center for American Progress and President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “The fossil-fuel agenda of the new Congress is out of step with public opinion and it’s out of step with the priorities of middle-class families who want more renewable energy, cleaner air for their kids, and places that will be set aside for future generations to enjoy.”

A memo to interested parties summarizing the results outlines how expected legislative attacks on the environment can be defeated. The memo recommends focusing on Big Oil’s efforts and other fossil-fuel interests’ efforts to boost their subsidies and maximize profits and recommends drawing a clear contrast in energy strategies by presenting a positive vision for a balanced approach to energy policy.

The survey also found that voters in all political parties strongly oppose lifting restrictions on oil exports. Sixty-nine percent of voters oppose allowing oil and gas companies to export more U.S. oil and gas to foreign countries, including 75 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents, and 61 percent of Republicans.

For an analysis for the survey results, click here.
For a PowerPoint summary of the results, click here.
For the polling data, click here.
For an analysis of the data relating to oil exports, click here.

For more information, contact Tom Caiazza at tcaiazza@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7141.