AUSTIN, Texas — A majority of Americans say government and industry should collaborate to strengthen U.S. energy security and energy independence, according to the latest edition of the UT Energy Poll.
The semiannual survey polled 2,043 Americans on a wide array of energy issues in January 2016 and was released during UT Energy Week.
Among the 58 percent of survey respondents who support such a cooperative approach, there are some striking differences along political party lines. Nearly 2 out of 3 self-described Democrats (66 percent) indicate support for joint efforts, compared with 53 percent of Republicans. Only 14 percent of poll participants say government should take the lead in enhancing U.S. energy independence and energy security; another 14 percent say market forces should dictate such efforts; the remaining 14 percent say they are not sure or have no opinion.
Political party affiliation again reveals stark contrasts, with nearly 1 in 4 Republicans (23 percent) indicating market forces should dictate movement toward greater energy security, compared with only 14 percent of Democrats.
In a separate question, 57 percent of Democratic respondents say the federal government should do more to prepare for future energy needs overall, compared with 41 percent of Republicans.
“Energy security means different things to different people, but it is clear that most people want government and private industry to work together,” said Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of the UT Energy Poll.
The survey also indicates consumers are willing to make some adjustments in their personal driving habits to help reduce foreign oil imports.
A slight majority (53 percent) say they are willing to purchase a higher efficiency vehicle, while nearly as many say they would decrease the number of miles they drive or purchase an alternative fuel or electric vehicle (46 percent and 44 percent, respectively) to help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil imports. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed say they would be willing to carpool or take public transportation.
The survey also reveals varying views on what the U.S. government’s role should be in combating global climate change. Nearly 3 out of 4 respondents (73 percent) think climate change is occurring, compared with 16 percent who say it is not occurring.
A clear majority of Republicans (60 percent) and Democrats (81 percent) say they are concerned about a significant increase in the Earth’s temperature. Nearly 2 out of 3 overall (66 percent) say climate change is “mostly due to human actions.” Just over 1 in 4 survey participants (28 percent) attribute a rise in global temperatures equally to humans and natural forces.
Forty-three percent of survey respondents see climate change as “an urgent threat” that all countries need to take action equally to address, compared with 27 percent who say that the U.S., as a world leader, should set an example by doing more to address climate change.
“We’re seeing strong support for collaborative efforts among nations to combat the effects of climate change,” said Kirshenbaum.
Nearly 2 out of 3 survey respondents overall (64 percent) say the U.S. should prioritize reducing carbon emissions, while 15 percent say it should not be a priority.
Other highlights from the latest UT Energy Poll:
The percentage of Americans who say they are familiar with the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, continues to hover just under a majority (47 percent). Of those who say they are familiar with the technology, 47 percent approve of its use, compared with 41 percent last fall; 37 percent oppose fracking, compared with 43 percent in September.
Survey respondents’ views again split along party lines: Of those who are familiar with fracking, nearly 2 out of 3 Republicans (65 percent) support the practice, compared with 30 percent of Democrats. Fifty-four percent of Democrats oppose fracking, compared with 37 percent of Republicans.
The percentage of Americans who say municipalities should have the right to ban fracking within city limits even if state law otherwise permits it continues to hold steady at 59 percent. A considerably higher percentage of Democrats (79 percent) think cities should be permitted to ban the practice, compared with 37 percent of Republicans.
For complete topline results, charts and other information about the nationwide, online survey, visit www.utenergypoll.utexas.edu.
Data from The University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll were weighted using U.S. Census Bureau figures, as well as propensity scores, to ensure the sample's composition reflects the actual U.S. population. The poll was developed by the McCombs School of Business and is supported by the KBH Center for Energy, Law & Business. The survey is intended to provide an objective, authoritative look at consumer attitudes and perspectives on key energy issues, and is designed to help inform national discussion, business planning and policy development. This is the 10th iteration of the Energy Poll, which was launched in October 2011.