Most Americans are expecting $5 gas by Labor Day

June 30, 2008


From Staff Reports
Daily Court Review

A new survey reveals Americans are increasingly angry and anxious about high gas prices and favor far-reaching action on energy and climate issues.

Three out of four Americans, and a similar percentage of likely voters, expect gasoline prices to reach $5 a gallon by Labor Day, according to the survey of 1,005 adults conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for the Civil Society Institute.

The level of Americans braced for more bad news on gas prices by the end of the summer is up from the 71 percent of Americans who correctly forecast in a January 2008 CSI survey that gas prices would reach $4 a gallon this summer.

Seventy-four percent of Americans and 73 percent of likely voters — including a bipartisan 73 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Independents — say that they already are “very angry” (40 percent) or “somewhat angry” (33 percent) about gasoline prices.

“Americans have been way ahead on issues related to energy policy and fuel efficiency,” Civil Society Institute President and Founder Pam Solo said. “Now the country and our economy are being brought to their knees by high gas prices. As further evidence builds that extreme weather from climate change may also be taking its toll, Americans are frustrated with the lack of leadership and decisive action by politicians on energy policies.”

The number of Americans who cite rising gasoline and other energy prices as their biggest economic worry has increases since January. In the most recent survey, when asked to identify the “two biggest economic problems” for 2008, over three out of five Americans (62 percent) — including a nearly identical 62 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Independents — named “rising gasoline and home heating oil prices” as the biggest problem, ahead of 44 percent who pointed to “recession or economic slowdown.” This reflects a big jump in less than half a year from January 2008 when only 51 percent named energy prices as their top concern, separated by just four percentage points (versus the current 18 percentage points) from the second most common worry: recession/economic slowdown, at 47 percent.

The survey shows that six out of 10 Americans say “definitely yes” to the following statement: “The reliance on fossil fuels is the product of the industrial revolution of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Do you think it is time for our nation to start thinking in terms of the concept of a ‘new industrial revolution,’ one that is characterized by the orderly phasing out of fossil fuels and the phasing in of clean, renewable energy sources — many of which are available now, such as wind and solar for electricity, hybrid and clean diesel technologies for cars.” Overall, 90 percent of Americans — including 82 percent of Republicans, 96 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Independents — said either “definitely” or “probably” yes and only 8 percent “no.”

Another key finding of the survey is more Americans are now inclined to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle. Over half of those surveyed, (53 percent) — including 58 percent of those who are angry about gas prices and 47 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Independents — are “more likely” to “buy a hybrid, clean-diesel or other more fuel-efficient vehicle now than [they] were six months ago.” This is up from the 35 percent of Americans who indicated in April 2007 that they were more likely to buy a hybrid or other fuel-efficient vehicle than six months before.

Other survey findings include:

* About nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) — including 85 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of Independents — say that the federal government is “not doing enough” about “high energy prices and the U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern energy  sources.”

*  Nine out of 10 Americans — including 86 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Independents — say that “energy-related issues — such as gasoline prices, home heating oil prices, global warming and energy independence” will be “very important” (61 percent) or “somewhat important” (29 percent) when they vote.  This level is holding roughly steady from the 89 percent level found in the January CSI survey asking the same question.

*  Three out of four Americans — including 62 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Independents — support “a five-year moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in the United States if there was stepped-up investment in clean, safe renewable energy — such as wind and solar — and improved home energy-efficiency standards.”

* Solar and wind power would be the choice of more than three out of five Americans (62 percent) if they could tell their “power company or utility where to get the power to run [their] house,” compared to 12 percent for nuclear and 3 percent for coal.


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