Even as gas prices have fallen by half in recent weeks, a poll just released by Rasmussen Reports shows that Americans favor offshore drilling by a margin of over 2 to 1 as a means to keep gas prices down. This broad level of public support has remained consistent since early summer when gas prices were at record highs and energy prices dominated the daily headlines. It also led the end of both the Executive and Congressional moratorium on the leasing of federally owned lands for energy production.

Yet even with such sustained broad public support for increased domestic production only 44% of those who favor offshore drilling believe President-elect Obama will allow that production to occur. Much of the public’s suspicion likely stems from President-elect Obama’s initial opposition to offshore drilling, then his acceptance of limited drilling as part of a comprehensive energy plan and now the most recent suggestion by his transition chief and Center For American Progress head John Podesta last week that Obama may reverse some of President Bush’s executive orders, which could include the ban on offshore energy production.

When energy prices hit record highs and began reaching further and further in people’s pockets to pay for those rising costs, Americans understood there was a need for increased domestic energy production. They learned that, contrary to the oft-repeated lie that America has little or no energy resources, the United States has huge resource potential that is being blocked by government actions that restrict affordable supplies to American consumers including ANWR, the OCS, and shale oil and natural gas. Huge potential energy resources remain off limits in the 96% of federal lands that remain unleased for energy exploration because of a host of government policies.

In fact, 81% of Americans say there is an urgent need to find new sources of energy and that need is more important than reducing current energy usage. It is clear that the American people will be watching President-elect Obama and the new Congress to ensure they pursue policies that will increase domestic energy production, and thus lower energy costs, in lieu of restricting access to taxpayer owned resources and returning to record high prices we experienced this summer.

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