Survey says: Americans support clean energy, environmental safeguards

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 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."

"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.

For the full survey findings, go to http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org

Conducted March 22-25, 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."