Fossil Fuels

Published on May 14th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


1 in 5 to Take Foot off Gas After Gulf Gusher

May 14th, 2010 by  

In what could be very good news for the nascent electric vehicle industry, a survey by the Shelton Group – which polled 1,312 consumers across the US – found that 20.1 percent of Americans say they will “reduce their gas consumption in response” to the news about the oil gushing from the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico.


“For years our research has shown America is a see-it-to-believe-it nation. Before we

make changes, we need to see things with our own eyes or have a personal connection

to something, said Suzanne Shelton, president of Shelton Group. “If Americans start seeing a lot of oil-covered pelicans or dying dolphins, these numbers will likely go even higher,”

The combined impact of the oil spill and the recent mine disaster in West Virginia has caused over 40 percent of Americans to think about the “human and environmental costs” associated with their own energy consumption, according to the Shelton Group poll.

The Shelton Group specializes in polling consumer behavior in relation to the environment, but more general polling organizations find similar results.

CBS News found that support for drilling has dropped from 62% in ’08 to 46% this week. And a Rasmussen poll conducted in just the first two weeks – before the full extent of the catastrophe was known – found that support sank 9 points among Republicans from 86% to 77%. Among Independents support drained from 72% to 58%, and among Democrats, it ebbed from 54% to 41%.

The findings are similar to a Pew Poll:

“Allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in US waters”  got 67% support in September’08. That dropped to a bare majority among all adults at 54%. By contrast, “Increasing federal funding for research on wind, solar and hydrogen technology” got 73% approval this month, an ongoing high level of support.

Only 4% told Pew that the sea floor gusher is not a serious disaster.

“From what you’ve seen and heard, do you think that the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is a major environmental disaster, a serious environmental problem but not a disaster, or is it not too serious an environmental problem?”

Major disaster 55%,

Serious problem 37%,

Not serious 4%,

Unsure/too soon 4%.

How about you? Have you responded to the Gulf oil blowout by thinking of ways to reduce your use of gasoline?

Image: Flikr user Texas Finn

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • I was listening to an engineer while going to work yesterday who said simply that nothing would stop this oil leak. BP really messed up here and the administration needs to focus on stopping this or the whole coastline will be lost. I doubt this top kill strategy will work but we’ll see. It has never been tried at these depths before. They’re just experimenting now.

    • If BP can’t fix it, the government can’t.

      If the government had million dollar equipment to do the job of every industry that might foul up, it would cost a fortune. As it is, people say they want govt to do less…

  • Nasty images of pelians covered in oil have been around for a long time. I think what’s causing this impressive AMerican response is its magnitude.

    And we really don’t want to see uglier disasters in order to have better responses from the people, do we?

    Just my 2 cents…

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