- New Survey Blows Up Phony “Party Divide” On Energy Issues

New Survey Blows Up Phony “Party Divide” On Energy Issues

Survey Says: Americans Support Clean Energy Development, Environmental Safeguards

(Albany, NY)—Republicans, Independents and Democrats agree that the United States should move away from its reliance on dirty energy sources that foul the air and water and toward a future that makes greater use of clean energy sources, according to a major new ORC International survey conducted for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (CSI) and released today in New York by Environmental Advocates of New York and Renewable Energy Long Island.

Pam Solo, founder and president, Civil Society Institute, said: “Our new survey is a clarion call to action: Americans think that it is time for  decisive action toward a renewable energy future that will protect public health and provide reliable and cost effective energy. It is only through the work of groups like Renewable Energy Long Island and Environmental Advocates of New York that this ‘bottom up’ process of change will take place. And it is only through such a grassroots-driven process that we can shake off the partisan gridlock of Washington, D.C., so that Americans can focus on what is really important to them: a clean energy future that does not sacrifice our water, air and health to politically powerful nuclear and fossil fuel interests.”

“The Civil Society Institute’s survey reinforces what we’re seeing and hearing in New York State every day. There’s strong bipartisan support for cleaning up our energy mix,” said David Gahl, Deputy Director, Environmental Advocates of New York. “Case in point: the Solar Jobs Act of 2012, which could create thousands of new jobs and jumpstart investment in New York’s growing solar energy industry by requiring state utilities to supply a percentage of their electricity from solar. This bill enjoys 35 sponsors in the State Senate; 13 are Republicans. These lawmakers like the bill because their constituents support renewable energy development.”

“We have everything we need to make the transition from dirty and dangerous energy supplies to clean and renewable energy technologies; the only thing missing is political will,” said Gordian Raacke, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Long Island, a regional not-for-profit organization. “What the public is telling our elected officials in this survey is ‘Let’s stop arguing and get to work to make this country a leader a clean energy'.”

Conducted March 22-25, 2012, the new ORC International survey of 1,019 Americans shows that:

More than eight out of 10 Americans (83 percent), including 69 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents, and 95 percent of Democrats, agree with the following statement: "The time is now for a new, grassroots-driven politics to realize a renewable energy future. Congress is debating large public investments in energy and we need to take action to ensure that our taxpayer dollars support renewable energy—one that protects public health, promotes energy independence and the economic well being of all Americans.”

Two thirds of Americans (67 percent) think that “political leaders should help to steer the U.S. to greater use of cleaner energy sources—such as increased efficiency, wind and solar—that result in fewer environmental and health damages.” Under a third of Americans (30 percent) think that “political leaders should stay out of the energy markets and let private enterprise have a free hand in picking energy sources and setting prices.”

More than two out of three (68 percent) think it is “a bad idea for the nation to ‘put on hold’ progress towards cleaner energy sources during the current economic difficulty.”

Eight out of 10 Americans agree that “water shortages and the availability of clean drinking water are real concerns.  America should put the emphasis on first developing new energy sources that require less water and result in lower water pollution. “Only 15 percent of Americans think that “America should proceed first with developing energy sources even if they may have significant water pollution and water shortage downsides.”

Two thirds of Americans (67 percent) think that “political leaders should help to steer the U.S. to greater use of cleaner energy sources, such as increased efficiency, wind and solar – that result in fewer environmental and health damages.” Under a third of Americans (30 percent) think that “political leaders should stay out of the energy markets and let private enterprise have a free hand in picking energy sources and setting prices.”

OTHER KEY SURVEY FINDINGS

About two out of three Americans (66 percent), including 58 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of Independents, and 75 percent of Democrats, agree that the term “‘clean energy standard’ should not be used to describe any energy plan that involves nuclear energy, coal-fired power, and natural gas that comes from hydraulic fracturing, also known as ‘fracking.’”

More than two out of three Americans (68 percent), including 60 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 74 percent of Democrats, think that America’s “new energy future” should be guided by the “precautionary principle,” which would work very much like the Hippocratic oath does for doctors: “The precautionary principle would advocate a conservative approach to the use of technologies that may put public health at risk and create irreversible environmental harm.  If there is not enough scientific evidence showing that it is safe, precaution should guide decisions in those cases.”

About three out of four Americans (75 percent), including  58 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents, and  86 percent of Democrats, think that “Congress and state public utility commissions that regulate electric utilities should put more emphasis on renewable energy and increased energy efficiency … and less emphasis on major investments in new nuclear, coal and natural gas plants.”

More than three out of four Americans (77 percent), including 70 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 85 percent of Democrats, agree that “(t)h energy industry's extensive and well-financed public relations, campaign contributions and lobbying  machine is a major barrier to moving beyond business as usual when it comes to America’s energy policy.”

Nearly six in 10 Americans (56 percent) are now aware of the natural gas drilling process commonly referred to as “fracking.” Fewer than three in 10 Americans (28 percent) are “not aware at all” of this extraction process.

Eighty one percent of Americans believe that “the price paid by consumers is only part of the cost of energy. We have to look at the whole picture, including environmental and health damages, when we talk about what a particular source of energy costs America.”

Eight out of 10 Americans (81 percent) who are aware of fracking say that they are concerned, including nearly half (47 percent) who are “very concerned,” about the impact of fracking on water quality.

About nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) agree that “U.S. energy planning and decision making must be made with full knowledge and understanding about the availability of water regionally and locally, and the impact this water use from specific energy choices has on their economies, including agricultural production.”

For the full survey findings, go to www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org on the web.

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

The new survey findings are based on a telephone survey conducted by ORC International among a national probability sample of 1,019  adults comprising 506 men and 513 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States.  Interviewing for this survey was completed during the period March 22-25, 2012.  The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points at the full sample size.

ABOUT THE GROUPS

Based in Newton, MA, the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute is a think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 25 major national and state-level surveys and reports on energy and auto issues, including vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, consumer demand for hybrids/other highly-fuel efficient vehicles, global warming and renewable energy. In addition to being a co-convener of TheCLEAN.org, the Civil Society Institute also is the parent organization of the Hybrid Owners of America.

Environmental Advocates of New York’s mission is to protect our air, land, water and wildlife and the health of all New Yorkers. Based in Albany, we monitor state government, evaluate proposed laws, and champion policies and practices that will ensure the responsible stewardship of our shared environment. We work to support and strengthen the efforts of New York's environmental community and to make our state a national leader. To learn more visit www.eany.org.

Renewable Energy Long Island (reLI) is a not-for-profit organization promoting clean, sustainable energy use and generation for Long Island, New York.  reLI conducts effective outreach and education activities and provides consumer-friendly clean energy information resources such as its SunshineIsFree.org solar calculator and contractor locator, and publishes the Long Island GreenGuide and green business directory.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available on the web at www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org  as of 5 p.m. EDT on April 25, 2012.