Americas

Most Americans Back Curbs on Auto Emissions, Other Environmental Proposals

Solid majority opposes drilling for oil in Alaskan wilderness

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual Environment survey, updated Mar. 11-14, 2007, finds the overwhelming majority of Americans supporting environmental proposals that would strengthen government restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions and spend more taxpayer money to develop alternative sources of fuel and energy. Americans have been widely supportive of these proposals since Gallup began tracking them as far back as six years ago. Public support for these proposals dipped slightly in 2006 but bounced back this year, and grew to a new high in the case of setting higher restrictions on auto emissions.

Gallup finds much less support for expanding the use of nuclear energy or opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil exploration.

The percentages favoring each of the eight proposals tested range from a high of 86% for spending government money to develop alternative sources of fuel for automobiles, to a low of 41% for oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness.

Next, I am going to read some specific environmental proposals. For each one, please say whether you generally favor or oppose it.

2007 Mar 11-14
(sorted by "favor")


Favor


Oppose

%

%

Spending government money to develop alternate sources of fuel for automobiles

86

12

Setting higher emissions and pollution standards for business and industry

84

15

More strongly enforcing federal environmental regulations

82

15

Spending more government money on developing solar and wind power

81

17

Setting higher auto emissions standards for automobiles

79

18

Imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions/other greenhouse gases

79

19

Expanding the use of nuclear energy

50

46

Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration

41

57

Changes in the Last Year

Seventy-nine percent of Americans now favor setting higher emission standards for automobiles, a slightly higher percentage than has been the case across four other measurements taken since 2001.

An even greater shift is seen in the percentage of Americans in favor of setting higher emissions and pollution standards for business and industry, rising from 77% in March 2006 to 84% in March 2007. However, the current level is similar to that found four years ago.

Last year's survey was conducted at a time of rising gas prices, which may have dampened Americans' willingness to support environmental policies presumed to drive fuel costs even higher.

Those in favor of spending more government money on developing solar and wind power grew by a small, but statistically significant, 4 percentage points over the past year, from 77% to 81%.

Similarly, a 4-point increase is seen in the percentage of Americans saying they are in favor of imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases -- from 75% in 2006 to 79% today. (Although this type of control is the cornerstone of the Kyoto global warming protocol that President George W. Bush opposes, public support for Kyoto, per se, has not been nearly this high.)

Eighty-two percent of Americans now say they favor "more strongly enforcing environmental regulations." This is not appreciably higher than the 79% Gallup recorded in 2006, but is the highest percentage seen since Gallup began tracking the measure in 2001.

There has been no significant change since 2006 in the percentage of Americans in favor of spending more government money to develop alternate fuel sources for automobiles -- the most widely favored of all proposals tested. That figure is currently 86%, compared with 85% in March 2006.

Nuclear Power and Arctic Oil Exploration Lose Support

Gallup's 2007 Environment poll documents a 5-point decline in the percentage of Americans who favor expanding the use of nuclear energy, and an 8-point decline in support for opening the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil exploration.

As a result, Americans are now closely divided over the nuclear energy issue (50% in favor and 46% opposed), while a solid majority of Americans oppose drilling for oil in ANWR (41% in favor, 57% opposed).

Comparing the current views to those of 2006 could overstate the importance of the changes, as public support for both proposals was unusually high last year, possibly due to rising gas prices. Current support levels are on par with where they stood in previous years.

Partisan Differences

Gallup generally finds the greatest differences among subgroups in support for the eight environmental proposals according to political party affiliation. Democrats widely support most of the proposed government regulations on greenhouse emissions as well as increased government spending to develop alternative energy sources. A majority of Republicans also support these proposals, just not to as great an extent.

Support for Environmental Policies by Party ID
Mar. 11-14, 2007

Republicans/
Lean Republican

Democrats/
Lean Democratic

%

%

Spending government money to develop alternate sources of fuel for automobiles

84

89

Setting higher emissions/pollution standards for business and industry

76

90

More strongly enforcing federal environmental regulations

74

92

Spending more government money on developing solar and wind power

77

86

Setting higher auto emissions standards for automobiles

73

87

Imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions/other greenhouse gases

67

90

The greatest partisan differences relate to the expansion of nuclear power and opening ANWR to oil exploration. A majority of Republicans favor these proposals, while a majority of Democrats oppose them.

Support for Environmental Policies by Party ID
Mar. 11-14, 2007

Republicans/
Lean Republican

Democrats/
Lean Democratic

%

%

Expanding the use of nuclear energy

 

 

Favor

63

40

Oppose

35

54

 

 

Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration

 

 

Favor

62

25

Oppose

36

72

Men and women are similar in their views about government spending on alternative energy and capping greenhouse gases, but they differ fairly sharply when it comes to expanding nuclear energy and drilling in ANWR; men are more supportive than women of both proposals.

Support for Environmental Policies by Party ID
Mar. 11-14, 2007

Men

Women

%

%

Expanding the use of nuclear energy

 

 

Favor

58

42

Oppose

39

53

 

 

Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration

 

 

Favor

48

34

Oppose

50

62

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,009 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Mar. 11-14, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/27100/Most-Americans-Back-Curbs-Auto-Emissions-Other-Environmental-Proposals.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030