The Pew Research Center has released the results of a new poll which shows that gasoline prices are beginning to undermine Americans' support for energy conservation. Worse, the poll shows that more Americans now believe that oil exploration and new power plant construction is a higher priority than protecting the environment.
Five months ago, only 35% of Americans believed the top energy priority was energy exploration, drilling and power plant construction. Now, 47% of Americans believe that is the top priority. Meanwhile, those who believe energy conservation is most important declined by 10%. Surprisingly, 60% of Americans say increasing energy supplies is more important than protecting the environment with more people now saying we should drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
These changes in opinion are not limited to one political philosophy. Liberals, independents, women and young people have all begun changing their minds with regard to drilling for new energy.
The most frustrating part of this poll is that it appears Americans are being misled by politicians looking for expedient ways to increase their own poll numbers. I have seen both the Bush Administration and John McCain attempt to take advantage of consumer anxiety by making promises about lower oil prices through oil drilling. Of course they are leaving out important details in their speeches.
What these politicans aren't telling us is that conservation is the only solution to our energy crisis we can apply today. Oil exploration and drilling will take over 10 years and will not solve our fossil fuel addiction. In fact, oil corporations may drill for oil in the U.S., but they are under no obligation to sell the oil here and will likely choose growing nations like China and India where price is no object. Through conservation, we can avoid the expense of building more energy infrastructure and we can re-route that money to developing new energy technologies and more fuel efficient vehicles.
My hope is that this knee-jerk reaction to increasing gasoline prices will subside when Americans realize waiting 10 years for the possibility of cheaper gas is the wrong choice. To see the full story on the Pew poll, click HERE.