The Gulf Coast oil disaster is intensifying the public's desire for clean energy investments and increased regulation of corporate polluters, according to a new poll commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters.
Americans voiced overwhelming support for energy legislation that goes beyond making BP pay for the damage it has caused, according to the poll released Tuesday. Findings suggest comprehensive energy reform could be a powerful election issue, with high support among key electoral groups.
"This poll makes crystal clear that the Gulf Coast disaster is the final straw for voters when it comes to allowing corporate polluters to dictate our energy policies," said LCV President Gene Karpinski in a statement. "Now, more than ever, it is clear that our dependence on oil - be it from hostile nations or friendly coasts - hurts our economy, threatens our security and harms our environment. Senators must work to deliver comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year that prevents future energy disasters, makes polluters pay their fair share and creates a thriving clean energy economy."
Sixty-six percent of the 800 voters surveyed by Obama pollster Joel Benenson agreed with this statement: "British Petroleum must pay for the damage they've done. But our addiction to oil threatens our security and we need more than a band-aid for that. Senators need to pass real reforms to hold polluters accountable and invest in clean American energy."
Only 23 percent agreed with this: "We need to ensure that British Petroleum pays every last dime of the damages they've caused, but Senators would be wrong to try to use this tragedy to pass some huge new Washington program and job-killing energy tax."
The poll comes in the wake of greater organizing around the climate bill and outrage over an amendment introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from addressing climate change through rule-making. But sixty-three percent of people surveyed said they want more regulation, supporting an energy bill that would "limit pollution, invest in domestic energy sources and encourage companies to use and develop clean energy. It would do this in part by charging energy companies for carbon pollution in electricity or fuels like gas."
Among Democrats, 81 percent would support such an energy bill, only 14 percent would oppose it. Among Independents, those numbers are 63 percent and 27 percent, respectively. Republicans are against such legislation, but not by much -- 45 percent support it and 47 percent oppose it.
Click HERE to download a PDF of the poll.