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Americans want government, industry to improve energy security, independence – UT poll

47% of Americans support fracking, 37% oppose it (down from 43% in Sept.) – energy poll

A majority of Americans say government and industry should collaborate to strengthen US energy security and energy independence, according to the latest edition of the UT Energy Poll.

energyThe semi-annual survey polled 2,043 Americans on a wide array of energy issues in Jan. and was released during UT Energy Week.

Among the 58 per cent of survey respondents who support such a cooperative approach, there are some striking differences along political party lines.

Nearly 2 out of 3 self-described Democrats (66%) indicate support for joint efforts, compared with 53 per cent of Republicans. Only 14 per cent of poll participants say government should take the lead in enhancing U.S. energy independence and energy security; another 14 per cent say market forces should dictate such efforts; the remaining 14 per cent say they are not sure or have no opinion.

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Political party affiliation again reveals stark contrasts, with nearly 1 in 4 Republicans (23%) indicating market forces should dictate movement toward greater energy security, compared with only 14 per cent of Democrats.

In a separate question, 57 per cent of Democratic respondents say the federal government should do more to prepare for future energy needs overall, compared with 41 per cent of Republicans.

“Energy security means different things to different people, but it is clear that most people want government and private industry to work together,” said Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of the UT Energy Poll.

The survey also indicates consumers are willing to make some adjustments in their personal driving habits to help reduce foreign oil imports.

A slight majority (53 per cent) say they are willing to purchase a higher efficiency vehicle, while nearly as many say they would decrease the number of miles they drive or purchase an alternative fuel or electric vehicle (46% and 44% respectively) to help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil imports. Thirty-seven per cent of those surveyed say they would be willing to carpool or take public transportation.

Climate Change

The survey also reveals varying views on what the U.S. government’s role should be in combating global climate change. Nearly 3 out of 4 respondents (73%) think climate change is occurring, compared with 16 per cent who say it is not occurring.

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A clear majority of Republicans (60%) and Democrats (81%) say they are concerned about a significant increase in the Earth’s temperature. Nearly 2 out of 3 overall (66%) say climate change is “mostly due to human actions.” Just over 1 in 4 survey participants (28%) attribute a rise in global temperatures equally to humans and natural forces.

Forty-three per cent of survey respondents see climate change as “an urgent threat” that all countries need to take action equally to address, compared with 27 per cent who say that the U.S., as a world leader, should set an example by doing more to address climate change.

“We’re seeing strong support for collaborative efforts among nations to combat the effects of climate change,” said Kirshenbaum.

Nearly 2 out of 3 survey respondents overall (64%) say the U.S. should prioritize reducing carbon emissions, while 15 per cent say it should not be a priority.

Hydraulic Fracturing

The percentage of Americans who say they are familiar with the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, continues to hover just under a majority (47%). Of those who say they are familiar with the technology, 47 per cent approve of its use, compared with 41 per cent last fall; 37 per cent oppose fracking, compared with 43 per cent in Sept.

Survey respondents’ views again split along party lines: Of those who are familiar with fracking, nearly 2 out of 3 Republicans (65%) support the practice, compared with 30 per cent of Democrats. Fifty-four per cent of Democrats oppose fracking, compared with 37 per cent of Republicans.

The percentage of Americans who say municipalities should have the right to ban fracking within city limits even if state law otherwise permits it continues to hold steady at 59 per cent. A considerably higher percentage of Democrats (79%) think cities should be permitted to ban the practice, compared with 37 per cent of Republicans.

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