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On Energy, Americans Want It All

A new Pew Research poll shows broad support for a variety of energy policy options currently on the table in Congress but “no public consensus on top priorities.”

A spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was quick to tout the results of the poll, arguing it shows that “the American people overwhelmingly support a comprehensive energy and climate bill that reduces our dependence on foreign oil, limits carbon pollution, and requires utilities produce more energy from renewable sources.” The spokesperson used the poll to tout various energy bills passed by the House, including the comprehensive energy and climate bill passed last year.

Americans overwhelmingly support broad policy goals like reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil or creating new green jobs, the poll finds. But they also support keeping energy prices low. According to Pew:

Roughly two-thirds (69%) say reducing America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy should be a very important goal for Congress and the president in any decisions on energy policy. The same number say keeping energy prices low is very important. Nearly as many (64%) say creating jobs within the energy sector should be a very important goal of energy policies, and 61% believe protecting the environment from the effects of energy development and use is a very important goal.

But there is less certainty among Americans when it comes to what should be the country’s top energy policy priority:

When asked to pick the one goal that should take highest priority, energy independence ranks at the top of the list. About three-in-ten (31%) say reducing America’s dependence on foreign energy should take priority in the energy policy debate. Roughly two-in-ten choose each of the other three goals as the top priority.

Both Republicans and Democrats listed energy independence and low energy prices as important priorities, while other issues appear to have split along party lines:

There is more of a partisan gap over environmental protection and job creation. Far more Democrats (76%) than Republicans (46%) see protecting the environment from the effects of energy development and use as a very important goal. And Democrats are also significantly more likely than Republicans (73% vs. 56%) to say that creating jobs within the energy sector should be a very important goal.

The poll was conducted July 29-Aug. 1 by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the National Journal, and was sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management.

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