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Pew survey finds a 10 percentage point shift over past year in public opinion toward expanded production of fossil fuels; 78% favor fuel efficiency standards

Pew.001
The Pew survey found a 10 percentage point shift in favor of expanded fossil fuel production from March 2011 to March 2012. Data: Pew Research Center. Click to enlarge.

As fuel prices rise, a new Pew Research Center survey has found that 52% of Americans now say the more important priority for addressing the nation’s energy supply is to develop alternative sources, such as wind, solar and hydrogen technology, while 39% see expanding the exploration and production of oil, coal and natural gas as the greater priority.

However, one year ago the public viewed the development of alternative energy sources as the more important priority by a much wider margin (63% to 29%). Since then, support for expanding production of oil and other traditional sources has increased among most demographic and political groups; the shift among Republicans has been particularly pronounced.

Furthermore, this latest national survey, conducted March 7-11, 2012 among 1,503 adults, finds that support for allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in US waters, which plummeted during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has recovered to pre-spill levels. Nearly two-thirds (65%) favor allowing increased offshore drilling, up from 57% a year ago and 44% in June 2010, during the Gulf spill.

As in past Pew Research Center surveys, there continues to be broad public support for an array of policies aimed at addressing the nation’s energy supply: 78% favor requiring better fuel efficiency for cars, trucks and SUVs; 69% favor more federal funding for research on wind, solar and hydrogen technology; and 65% favor spending more on subway, rail and bus systems.

But while support for each of these policies has been steady or down modestly in recent years, support for allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in US waters has increased. Currently, more than twice as many favor than oppose increased offshore drilling (65% vs. 31%). In June 2010, only 44% favored more offshore drilling while 52% were opposed. The balance of opinion today is almost identical to what it was in February 2010, two months before the Gulf oil disaster (63% favor, 31% oppose).

Nonetheless, Americans are far more divided over whether the government should give tax cuts to energy companies to do more exploration for oil and gas; 46% favor this while 50% are opposed. Opinion about tax cuts for energy companies is about where it was in 2008.

Nuclear. Support for promoting the increased use of nuclear power, which slipped after last year’s Japan nuclear disaster, has recovered modestly. Currently, 44% favor the increased use of nuclear power while 49% are opposed. Last March, 39% favored greater use of nuclear power and 53% were opposed.

Fracking. A majority of the public (63%) has heard a lot (26%) or a little (37%) about fracking, a drilling method used to extract natural gas from underground rock formations. Men, older people and college graduates are far more likely than their counterparts to have heard at least a little about fracking.

Among those who have heard at least a little about fracking, 52% favor it while 35% are opposed and 13% offer no opinion.

Men who have heard about fracking favor the practice by about two-to-one (61% vs. 29%). Women are evenly split (40% favor; 41% are opposed). Although young people are less likely to have heard about fracking, those who have are just as likely as older people to favor it.

There is a wide education difference in views about fracking. College graduates are about evenly split—45% favor fracking while 43% are opposed. A majority of those with some college (56%) or a high school education or less (56%) support fracking.

There is little regional variation in the shares who have heard about fracking, although those in the Northeast are more likely to have heard a lot (36% have heard a lot, compared with 23% in the rest of the country). Among those who have heard at least a little, there is virtually no regional difference in opinion about fracking; about half favor this across all regions.

Republicans who have heard at least a little about fracking are far more likely than Democrats to favor the process (73% vs. 33%), and there is little difference in opinion among Republicans. But among Democrats who are aware of fracking, there is a wide ideological gap. Conservative and moderate Democrats are split about evenly—39% favor fracking while 43% are opposed. By contrast, liberal Democrats oppose fracking by a 64% to 26% margin.

Partisan differences. The survey shows that there continue to be large partisan differences in views of various energy policies. Fully 89% of Republicans favor allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling while only half of Democrats agree. A majority of independents (64%) support increased drilling off the US coast.

Republicans also are more likely than Democrats to favor giving tax cuts to energy companies for oil and gas exploration and promoting the increased use of nuclear power.

By contrast, Democrats and independents are far more likely than Republicans to favor increased federal funding for alternative energy research, spending more on mass transit and requiring better fuel efficiency for vehicles. About eight-in-ten Democrats (81%) and 70% of independents support increased funding for alternative energy, compared with 52% of Republicans.

The partisan differences in opinions about federal funding for alternative energy research and other policies are not new; last November, 83% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents and just 53% of Republicans and GOP leaners favored increased federal funding on research into alternative energy technology. But as recently as April 2009, there were virtually no partisan differences in views of federal funding for research into alternative energy.

Priorities for US Energy Policy. Over the past year, there has been an increase in the percentage of Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans, who view the expansion of exploration and production of oil, coal and natural gas as a more important priority for addressing the nation’s energy supply than the development of alternative energy sources.

In March 2011, Republicans were evenly divided over how to address the energy supply: 47% said the more important priority was to develop alternative sources, while 44% said it was to expand exploration and production of oil, coal and natural gas. In the current survey, just a third of Republicans (33%) view development of alternatives as more important, while 59% say the more important priority is to expand exploration and production of oil and other traditional energy sources.

Conservative Republicans now prioritize traditional energy sources over alternative sources by a 65% to 26% margin; a year ago they were divided (47% oil, coal, natural gas vs. 43% alternative energy).

But increasing numbers in other groups—including Westerners and older Americans—also prioritize the development of energy from traditional sources. Among those living in the West, 53% say it is more important to develop alternative energy while 39% prioritize traditional sources. Last year, the margin was 73% to 19%.

In the current survey, men 50 and older say it is more important to expand exploration from traditional energy sources, by 51% to 37%. A year ago, older men prioritized the development of alternative energy sources by a comparable margin (54% to 35%).

Resources

Comments

HarveyD

Vehicles (mainly cars) massive electrification is (or should be) a step by step evolution.

The toughest first step was taken by Toyota with their Prius HEV in 1997/1998. Sales were slow during the first 10 years but may hit over 1+M/yr soon.

The second step was taken by GM, with their PHEV Volt in 2011, a few years before appropriate high performance, affordable batteries were available. Sales of this forerunner are slow but will pick up when batteries performance have increased 2x or more and their price has dropped to 1/3. That may not happen before 2017 or so.

The final step (BEVs) was attempted by almost one dozen makes but for most, it is too early and not competitive. Heavy bodies from the ICEV era and low performance/high price batteries are not a good match and the end products are too expensive. Sales are low and will probably remain low until 2020+ or until both major problems are solved.

Much lighter bodies with 75+ Kwh lighter quick charge lower cost batteries are required to match current ICEVs. That could happen between 2020 and 2030. If it does...bye bye ICEVs.

ai_vin

http://inhabitat.com/solar-installations-in-the-us-more-than-doubled-in-2011/

SJC

The statement that a lot of vehicles are replaced within 10 years, and the implied outcome is that they will be electric, so in 20 years they will all be electric.

That is a leap of logic that most logicians would reject immediately. There is NO evidence trail from here to there, just belief for belief sake.

I would like to see EVs, but I am not going to count on that excluding everything else, that would be just plain STUPID.

Engineer-Poet

You do realize that Prophet is Sean's actual surname, given to him by his parents, don't you?

I'm also surprised that you can't do the simple math:  200 million vehicles at 9.4 years median age equals about 10 million replacements per year, give or take.  Nearly all of today's fleet will be junk by 2030, so what's on the road now tells you nothing about what will dominate the roads by then.

Sean Prophet

So SJC, all you can do is mock my name, while gazing in your own crystal ball? We can't foretell the future, but we can look at obvious trends. Peak oil, climate legislation and practicality are driving a tectonic shift in the way we get around. Even if these things were not happening and visible every day, technological advancement *alone* would be pushing us away from old belching oil-burners. You can load up the oil-burners with all sorts of sophisticated controls, from CPUs to GPS to DVD players. It still doesn't change the fact that 1) Such vehicles are using a finite resource. 2) The pollution from such vehicles is a health and climate hazard. 3) Such vehicles are woefully inefficient. 4) Better options are becoming available every year, with the relentless march of Moore's law increasingly being applied to transportation. 5) The electricity grid is greening much faster than the auto fleet. 6) Green grids need energy storage, so V2G becomes not only an advantage for the grid, but for individual owners to become involved in electricity arbitrage which might help them with their payments. The list goes on and on. You just don't like the implications, and you especially don't like to be challenged. Perhaps we'd all be better off looking in a mirror (or out the window or at the latest news reports) instead of a crystal ball.

SJC

When someone uses the saying "mark my words" they are trying to live up to their name.

Don't insult by talking about simple math, you are implying that ALL the vehicles that are scrapped will be replaced by something completely different.

Over the past 20 years we have had a chance to have something completely different, but we have not. What makes you think it will all be completely different 20 years from now?

One can make projections based on past and present events, but like someone once said, "predictions are hard, especially when they are about the future". We can all read the news and come to different conclusions, I believe that is called bias.

HarveyD

A well known American, very recently explained the reluctance of many with these words: You cannot teach right-wing die-hard pundits the truth and it may be wiser to let them be. The majority will progress without them. Anyway, their children and grand children will convince them to change.

Engineer-Poet
The statement that a lot of vehicles are replaced within 10 years
You're playing games with words.  You take an established historical fact and reduce it to a "statement", as if it's opinion.  It's the contrary view that's mere opinion, and without support at that.
the implied outcome is that they will be electric
Fact:  25% of Buick LaCrosses now ship with eAssist.  Fact:  by the time an auto model or technology ships, the next generation is usually in the design phase.

I've seen nothing to suggest that a relatively modest enhancement of the BAS-II/eAssist system could not give a vehicle a substantial electric-drive capability.  Honda's original IMA was close to that more than a decade ago.  The pieces are all there.

so in 20 years they will all be electric.
It would take about 3 model generations to get to 100% penetration:  eAssist or the like is an option across the board, the next generation hits 50% penetration, and the generation after that it's standard equipment.  The next ten years replaces half the previous vehicle fleet.

This assumes that nothing else is going on, but NGVs and electrics have big advantages in abundance and flexibility of supply over liquid fuels.  Things will go towards them because there are no real alternatives.

Engineer-Poet

(sigh) I hate when the fscking auto-censor screws me over. Reposting in pieces...

The statement that a lot of vehicles are replaced within 10 years
You're playing games with words.  You take an established historical fact and reduce it to a "statement", as if it's opinion.  It's the contrary view that's mere opinion, and without support at that.
the implied outcome is that they will be electric
Fact:  25% of Buick LaCrosses now ship with eAssist. Fact:  by the time an auto model or technology ships, the next generation is usually in the design phase.
Engineer-Poet

I've seen nothing to suggest that a relatively modest enhancement of the BAS-II/eAssist system could not give a vehicle a substantial electric-drive capability.  Honda's original IMA was close to that more than a decade ago.  The pieces are all there.

so in 20 years they will all be electric.
It would take about 3 model generations to get to 100% penetration:  eAssist or the like is an option across the board, the next generation hits 50% penetration, and the generation after that it's standard equipment.  The next ten years replaces half the previous vehicle fleet.

This assumes that nothing else is going on, but NGVs and electrics have big advantages in abundance and flexibility of supply over liquid fuels.  Things will go towards them because there are no real alternatives.

Engineer-Poet

I've seen nothing to suggest that a relatively modest enhancement of the BAS-II/eAssist system could not give a vehicle a substantial electric-drive capability.  Honda's original IMA was close to that more than a decade ago.  The pieces are all there.

Engineer-Poet

I've seen nothing to suggest that a relatively modest improvement of the BAS-II/eAssist system could not give a vehicle a substantial electric-drive capability.  Honda's original IMA was close to that more than a decade ago.  The pieces are all there.

so in 20 years they will all be electric.
It would take about 3 model generations to get to 100% penetration:  eAssist or the like is an option across the board, the next generation hits 50% of shipments, and the generation after that it's standard equipment.  The next ten years replaces half the previous vehicle fleet.

This assumes that nothing else is going on, but NGVs and electrics have big advantages in abundance and flexibility of supply over liquid fuels.  Things will go towards them because there are no real alternatives.

Lucas

I'm sorry Anne. I have no idea what the Koch Brothers Gospel is or who or what they are.

I do not let anyone do my thinking for me.

Stan Peterson

More and more the enviro-greens become even more ignorant, hopeless, and inept in their predictions and forecasts. SJC is at least somewhat realistic, and is being roundly criticized for it.

The best electric generator technology regardless of fossil fuel source,is near 60% efficiency. Present LWR nuclear efficiency isi about 42% and can't get better without major change in Thermodynamic efficiency.

That simply won't happen before Fusion is ready to replace it. As it takes 20-30 years to merely license new nuclear fission technology, based on NRC history.

Fusion is much safer, it can't runaway, holds no massive containment of radioactive nuclides, so its lead time to commercial approval will be 1/3 to 1/2 half the time required.

To realistically adopt electric cars, a whole new generation of battery technology, like Lithium-Air, is needed. Even then, pure EVs will be substantially more expensive to purchase, for at least 15-20 years.

Hybridization will continue to be refined, but the cost equivalent proposition is probably only 5 years less or 2015-2025.

Until there is cost equivalence, there will not be mass adoption. Only then can we expect a real transition in about the time it takes to turn over the existing auto fleet or about 11 years, more.

So no matter what the green-enviros hope, pray, inveigh, damn, or say, widespread adoption of EVs will occur no sooner than 2030-2040. But it will eventually come, even if it is when we no longer urgently need it. By then we will have lots of fossil available at attractive prices. The 40-50 interegnum years of expensive energy, will be long gone.

Meanwhile, the target that EVs are aiming at will also improve, that technology is NOT standing still. It is a moving target. Already ICE's toxic-pollution, cleanup technology can produce ICE cars that are actually cleaner than any EV, at least in the USA. That technology will continue to get cheaper and more universal, and in only a single auto turnover generation or 11 years, virtually all autos will employ it, at least in the USA. Europe and the Third World have no plans to even adopt any of that technology prior to 2030 though. Even if it is available, any more than they have chosen to adopt the very good, but not perfect technology of today. A good technology that has alrgely cleansed the USA and could do so for Euroepe. Instead they have chosen dirty air, and other useless but tax-producing alternatives.

Diesel technology thanks to the neglect of phony greens in Europe, where it is prevalent, is well behind in its technological development. It will not be for at least five more years before an equivalent cleanup technology is available for them, to cleanse them to SULEV II levels.

Meanwhile fuel economy will rise somewhat, but not to the ridiculous levels the ignorant partisans in the EPA are predicting, and trying to mandate by executive fiat, without legislative authorization.

Any technologist worth his salt, will tell you that any technology improves rapidly during its life cycle, until all the easy advances have been made. Then it gets progressivly harder and harder to get further improvements. It's sometimes codified in a "Law of Diminishing Returns".

The ICE/Diesel has been around for 100 years and many but not all of the technological improvments have been made. But we are already in the end phase of a relatively mature technology, so despite the Gaian neo-Druids wishes and wants, it simply won't produce lots more advance.

You need some perspective to see how far that the technology has advanced. Its fuel economy has improved and almost quintupled, since the early 1970s, but had improved almost as much prior to then. Year of Earth Day, 1970 was hardly at the beginning of its development cycle.

It is somewhat obscured by the mileage/size equation. The most fuel efficient auto commonly available, in the USA in 1970 was the 42 HP subcompact Beetle. That VW obtained only 14 city-16 hiway by the somewhat optmistic CAFE rating when compared to teh EOPA Moroney measure. Today the largest passenger vehicle, the Suburban carrying 8 instead of 3-4 passengers, plus lots of cargo, and three times heavier, gets equivalent or better fuel economy.

An equivalent subcompact of today can obtain 40-55 mpg, 3 to 5 times the fuel economy of the venerable VW bug.

HCCI and PCCI technology will come for the various ICE technologies, and be adopted fairly soon. But those are the logical and theoretical end points of ICE/Diesel efficiency, not some interim target.

ai_vin

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#46900059

ToppaTom

The truth is that today, EVs are poised to take over.

The sad truth is that 10 years ago they were also poised to take over.

And "taking over" sales means the percentage on the road only STARTS to increase.

J.D. Power & Associates says 7% of US sales by 2020.

Boston Consulting Group sees hybrids and electric vehicles as 26% of the global market in 2020.

PRTM estimates the total may be closer to 30% as battery prices fall and the price of the vehicles comes closer to standard models.

Wishing it will be 90%, 75% or even 50% does not mean it will be.

You may not convince today's flower children that what they wish is true, may not be, but that doesn't mean you should not try. The majority will progress without them. Their children and grand children will have to grow up also.

ai_vin

http://inhabitat.com/germany-sets-new-solar-record-by-meeting-nearly-half-of-countrys-weekend-power-demand/

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