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U.S. Opinion on Energy Security

November 19, 2009

Concerns about Energy Security

Americans show high levels of concern about energy security. A large majority of the U.S. public believes that energy shortages and higher prices could lead to destabilization of the world economy, that competition for energy could lead to international conflict (and even war), and that the way the world produces energy is causing environmental problems. A large majority favors creating a new international institution to monitor the worldwide energy market. Download full chapter (PDF).

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Approaches to Energy Supply—Renewable Energy

There is strong U.S. support for a variety of methods to address the problem of energy supply. Americans are in favor of putting greater emphasis on the development of alternative renewable sources such as solar and wind, requiring utilities to use more alternative renewable energy (even if this increases the cost), and providing tax incentives to encourage the development and use of such technologies. There is substantial optimism that investments in alternative energy will pay off economically in the long run. Americans also strongly agree that investing in renewable energy is important for the United States to remain competitive in the global economy. Download full chapter (PDF).

Approaches to Energy Supply—Conservation

In general, the U.S. public strongly favors conservation. Specifically, it favors putting greater emphasis on modifying buildings to make them more energy efficient as well as requiring businesses to use energy more efficiently, even if this might make some products more expensive. Americans do not, however, favor an extra charge for the purchase of models of appliances or cars that are not energy efficient, and they are opposed to increasing energy taxes to encourage conservation. Nevertheless, a majority supports higher taxes if the revenues are earmarked for developing alternative energy or if the tax is offset by other tax reductions. Additionally, Americans are in favor of requiring automakers to increase fuel efficiency, even if this means the price of cars would go up. Download full chapter (PDF).

Approaches to Energy Supply—Fossil Fuels

Americans oppose putting greater emphasis on building coal or oil-fired power plants. Expectations are high that the price of oil will rise dramatically over the next decade and most Americans say that their government should plan under the assumption that oil is running out and that a major effort is necessary to replace it. Americans lean against the idea of using military force to ensure the supply of oil. Download full chapter (PDF).

Approaches to Energy Supply—Nuclear Energy

Fewer than half of Americans want to put a greater emphasis on building nuclear power plants. However, most Americans do not want to abandon nuclear energy, and when building nuclear plants is part of an effort to reduce reliance on oil and coal, a majority supports it. Download full chapter (PDF).

Dealing With Energy-Producing Countries

Americans express strong support for reducing reliance on undemocratic countries in general and on Middle East countries in particular. While Americans are very concerned about dependence on Russian energy, they continue to have some faith in that nation as an energy supplier. When it comes to other energy-providing countries, such confidence is moderately low for Saudi Arabia, quite low for Venezuela, very low for Iran, and very high for Canada. Download full chapter (PDF).

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