September 24, 2008
Brian Kennedy (202) 346-8826

Congress Relents Under Pressure From American Public, Allows Offshore Drilling Ban to Expire
Institute for Energy Research (IER) survey shows 65% of Americans prefer this approach

Washington, DC – The Institute for Energy Research (IER) today released the results of a bipartisan national survey of America’s attitudes on energy policy.  Conducted on IER’s behalf by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates (R) and Frederick Polls (D), the survey data reveals nation very seriously concerned over rising fuel and heating oil costs.  The results come on the heels of the announcement that Congress will allow the entire ban on offshore energy production to expire, which the survey research found to be the preferred approach of a majority of the American people.

“The research concludes that most Americans are thinking rationally about U.S. energy policy,” said Thomas Pyle, president of IER.  “They know advanced technology enables us to produce energy and protect the environment at the same time, and that domestic production is needed to help meet demand and lower prices.  In short, it’s clear that most Americans have separated facts from fiction in this ongoing national debate, and now believe the offshore ban should be eliminated in its entirety.  This represents a dramatic shift in sentiment over a very short period of time.”

Pollster Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates added, “Bipartisan majorities of Americans want more sources of domestic energy and have a loud and clear message for Congress: ‘Get out of the way and let the states decide.’”

An overwhelming majority of voters favor increased oil and gas exploration off the US coastline, and a large majority favoring an end to the ban on offshore drilling. The survey results also show that a wide majority of Americans believe that the U.S. can explore for increased oil and natural gas and do so in an environmentally friendly way.  94% of survey respondents described the price of gasoline, diesel, natural gas and heating oil as either a very serious or somewhat serious problem. 70% of voters questioned said Congress should make it easier to explore for oil and natural gas here in the U.S., and 65% of respondents favored Congress allowing the present ban on offshore oil drilling to expire.  Further, a combined 70% of survey respondents said lifting the present ban on off-shore oil and gas exploration will either decrease or stabilize gasoline prices.

A plan discussed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would ban oil and gas exploration within 50 miles of the U.S coastline lost considerable support when those who favor it are told “that roughly 80 percent or more of the offshore reserves that could be developed and brought to market fastest are found within 50 miles of the coast.” More than half (55%) of the “House Democratic Plan” supporters would favor letting the states decide where drilling should be allowed off their coasts when they heard this information.  Just one in eight of the original supporters of the “House Democratic Plan” would continue to support the 50-mile ban on drilling.

A plan discussed by the “Gang of 10,” a bi-partisan group of lawmakers who support keeping a drilling ban in place for roughly 75% of offshore areas surrounding the lower 48 states, drew a total favorable response of 44% from survey respondents with 42% of voters either strongly or somewhat opposing the Gang of 10 plans.

For an executive summary of the research findings, click here.  Other highlights from the survey include:

  • 73% of Americans believe that given new advances in technology, we can increase drilling for oil and natural gas off the coast of the U.S. and still protect the environment.
  • Voters trust private industry over the Congress, 45% to 26%, to meet our future energy needs. But 54% of survey respondents say Congress is most responsible for the current state of our nation’s energy situation.
  • Only 30% of voters believed some lawmakers when they said, “Increasing domestic energy production will only lower gas prices by two cents.”
  • 49% of Americans said that increasing taxes on oil companies will increase the price of gasoline at the pump.

The bi-partisan survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted by the team of Tony Fabrizio, Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates and Keith Frederick, Frederick Polls and shows concerns over gasoline, natural gas and heating oil prices as the number two issue in America—appreciably behind worries over the nation’s economic health. The national telephone survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted from September 16-21, 2008.  The sample was selected using the random-digit-dialing (RDD) method, and was stratified to proportionately represent the known distribution of voters in U.S.  The error margin for this poll is 3.1% at the 95% confidence level.

The survey can be accessed by clicking here

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) is a not-for-profit public foundation that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.  Founded in 1989, IER is funded entirely by tax deductible contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. No financial support is sought or accepted from government (taxpayers).


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