On oil, Americans poll with their pocket books

January 29, 2015

Even as broad economic indicators continue to improve, Americans poll with an eye on their pocketbooks when it comes to energy policy.  As this Reuters graphic shows, the results of just-released Reuters/Ipsos poll show that 63 percent of those surveyed think American oil should stay at home to push down gas prices, versus 21 percent who think it should be exported to bolster the U.S. economy.

While the export of refined oil is currently permitted, oil companies have been banned from exporting crude oil for 40 years. In December, though, regulators relaxed restrictions for oil “condensate,” opening the possibility for crude to be more broadly exported. On this policy, 46 percent of those surveyed agreed that U.S. producers should be able to export crude to countries other than Canada, but that number more than halved to 22 percent agreement if exporting American oil would lead to higher gas prices.

The recent increase in U.S. oil production, due largely to fracking for shale oil, has had no small part in driving prices to their lowest point in years owing to a global oversupply. Environmental watchdogs oppose fracking on environmental concerns, and a November poll from the Pew Research Center found that 47 percent now oppose the practice, with 41 percent in favor–a reversal of March, 2013 numbers that showed 48 percent of adults under 50 in support and 38 percent opposed. Consumers seem willing to turn a blind eye to the method of extraction if it means a break in the price at the pump.

ReutersIpsosOilPoll012915

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