By Tim Pearce
April 3, 2018 - Americans’ level of concern over the availability and affordability of energy is at the lowest point in 18 years, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
Gallup has polled on the issue of energy since the 1970s and Monday’s result, coming in at 25 percent of Americans, is the second lowest mark ever scored. The lowest score of 22 came in 2002 when Americans were hyper-focused on terrorism and other security issues following the September 11th terror attacks, the Gallup report says.
The poll broke respondents into subgroups defined by political party, self-identified environmentalists, level of education and age. Americans who worry less about the immediate future of energy tend to identify as Republicans but not environmentalists, have a higher level of education and are at least 50 years old.
The poll also found that Americans on average prioritize environmental protection over energy production. The split on valuing environmental protection is widest between Democrats at 79 percent and Republicans at 31 percent. Fifteen percent of Democrats value energy production versus 62 percent of Republicans.
A majority of both parties support alternative energy development over fossil fuels, though the split remains wide at 88 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans.
“With relatively low gas prices and little evidence of energy shortages in the U.S., Americans’ concern has declined and is currently at or near record lows,” Gallup reports. “As such, Americans have once again placed a higher priority on environmental protection than on increasing energy supplies. And, consistent with their historical preferences, they would rather focus on conservation and development of alternative energy than on producing more traditional forms of fuel.”
President Donald Trump has supported several fossil fuel-friendly projects and policies, such as the Keystone XL pipeline and opening up huge swaths of federal waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and Alaska to offshore oil development. Trump has also pledged to revive the coal industry and remove regulatory hurdles from oil and gas development on federal land in a general strategy designed to encourage fossil fuel development and lower energy prices.
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