Poll: Public split between clean energy, oil drilling in response to high gas prices

Americans are more likely to agree than to disagree with Democratic calls for renewable energy investment and Republican calls for oil and gas drilling in response to high oil and gas prices, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. But when forced to choose between the two approaches, they are evenly split.

The survey of 1,605 U.S. adults, conducted from April 19-22, found that pluralities of respondents agree with both responses to inflation.

When half of the survey takers were asked whether they agree or disagree with the claim that “the United States should invest in speeding up the transition from fossil fuels to electric vehicles and clean sources of energy,” 43% agreed and 34% disagreed, with 23% unsure.

The other half were asked the same question, but were told that Democrats are making that argument. That changed the result only slightly: 45% agreed, 35% disagreed and 20% were unsure.

The GOP stance provoked a similar response, albeit with slightly stronger support: 52% of respondents agreed that “the United States should make it easier to drill for oil and gas offshore and on land owned by the federal government, and approve more oil and gas pipelines.” Twenty-five percent disagreed, with the remainder unsure.

When told that Republicans are promoting the approval of more oil and gas drilling leases and pipelines, support was slightly diminished: 49% were in support, versus 30% opposed.

The results may indicate that an “all of the above” energy strategy that combined renewable energy investment and increased fossil fuel extraction would win majority support. However, when asked which approach they prefer, the public was evenly divided: 31% favored drilling, 29% favored renewables and just 20% said both.

Asked to choose which of 10 issues is the “the biggest problem facing America today,” 6% of respondents chose gas prices, whereas 33% chose inflation and 11% chose climate change.

With the price of oil and natural gas spiking in the wake of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the already contentious issue of energy policy has become even more divisive.

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