National Poll: Americans Say Pickens' Energy Plan Can Work

News Story: August 7, 2008

In a new national Sacred Heart University Poll, 74.0% of Americans said it was very or somewhat possible the 10-year energy independence plan proposed by Texas oilman, T. Boone Pickens, could be accomplished.Pickens is running advertising touting his plan to use American ingenuity along with solar and wind power, offshore drilling, electric power, natural gas and bio-fuels to cut dependence on foreign oil in 10 years.Just 14.4% indicated the plan was somewhat impossible or not at all possible to accomplish and 11.6% were unsure.

When asked about U.S. Congressional reaction to Pickens’ plan, two-thirds of Americans surveyed with an opinion, 65.7%, said Congress would help the plan fail by using laws and regulations to block it.Another 28.4% believed Congress would help the plan succeed by passing supportive legislation.According to Jerry Lindsley, director of the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute, “Expectations of Congress have never been lower.”

Three-quarters of Americans, 74.1%, suggested that recent gasoline price increases are very or somewhat seriously impacting their quality of life.Another 34.4% indicated they have switched to a smaller, more efficient car (19.9%) or plan to (14.5%).And, 32.5% have either purchased a “hybrid” vehicle (4.9%) or are considering it (27.6%).

Three-fifths of Americans surveyed, 59.5%, said they plan to travel less during the upcoming 2008 holiday season as a result of higher gasoline prices which impact airfare and travel by car.Another 34.8% said they had no plans to curtail travel and 5.8% were unsure.Nearly a quarter of Americans surveyed, 22.0%, said they are using credit cards more frequently today than one year ago to pay for gasoline.

Support for oil drilling in places such as Utah, Alaska and Colorado moved to 71.6% from 68.4% in 2005.And, nearly two-thirds, 64.1%, supported drilling for oil along U.S. coastal waters.Majorities also supported providing tax incentives for development of energy alternatives (77.5%) and allowing the government to permit new oil refineries as needed (72.8%).

Just under a majority of those surveyed, 49.1%, indicated support for building new nuclear power plants and 30.4% supported adding 20 cents per gallon to the Federal gasoline tax to support research on energy alternatives.

Americans would prefer that airlines and other industries introducing energy surcharges simply add these into their price or cost.Nearly half of those surveyed, 49.6%, prefer to see the charges incorporated into pricing while 33.6% preferred separate surcharges.Some were unsure (11.6%) and 5.1% offered that they don’t want to see any surcharges.

If offered the choice, after winning $50,000 in a lottery, of the cash or free gasoline for life, 70.5% took the cash and 26.4% opted for free gasoline for life.Some, 3.1%, were unsure.

To push back, 57.8% of those surveyed in the Sacred Heart University Poll wanted to see new taxes or tariffs placed on food produced by the U.S. that is exported to oil-exporting nations.

“Americans were not entirely grumpy about energy prices,” according to Jerry Lindsley. “They saw a bright side when asked to name positive impacts the increased cost of oil and gasoline may be having on our nation.”He said, “Americans cited less pollution and a cleaner environment, more family time at home, finding new fuel alternatives, more use of public transit, less traffic and fewer car trips, conservation and smaller, more efficient cars.”

EXPERT AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT

  • Jerry Lindsley, director, Sacred Heart University Polling Institute

To speak with this expert, please contact Funda Alp at 203-396-8241 or alpf@sacredheart.edu.

How the Poll Was Conducted
The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute completed 800 interviews with residents nationwide between July 28 - August 7, 2008. The sample was generated proportional to population contribution in all 50 states. Statistically, a sample of 800 completed telephone interviews represents a margin for error of +/-3.5% at a 95% confidence level.