Poll: Americans Want Science Leading the Way - Not Panic Drilling - Oceana USA

Poll: Americans Want Science Leading the Way — Not Panic Drilling

Voters in California, Oregon and Washington Call for a Science-Based Precautionary Approach and Shift to Renewable Energy

Press Release Date: September 18, 2008

Location: Juneau, AK


Dustin Cranor, APR | email: dcranor@oceana.org | tel: 954.348.1314


A recent poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly support a precautionary science-based approach to oil development that maintains a healthy environment and includes a shift to renewable energy. The poll of 1,100 Western voters, commissioned by Oceana and conducted by David Binder Research, found almost no support for rushed and unrestrained drilling and significant reluctance to drill offshore in the Arctic.

Two-thirds of voters (66%) said they were very or somewhat concerned about the risks of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, more than double the number who said they are only a little or not at all concerned. The federal Mineral Management Service has stated that two large oil spills are likely in Arctic waters if drilling and development occur, and that there is no proven method to clean up an oil spill in icy Arctic waters.

Despite that growing consensus of concern about the Arctic, Peter Slaiby, head of Shell’s Alaska operations, was quoted in a recent BBC News story as saying, “I think the American people are on our side, and I think what’s been the tipping point has been the four dollar gallon – it’s really created a sea-change of thought on this.”

“Shell is wrong – Americans are calling for a common sense approach – a healthy environment and affordable, renewable energy, not a mad rush to the Arctic Ocean with panic drilling,” said Dr. Chris Krenz, Arctic Project Manager for Oceana. “Panic drilling is another bridge to nowhere- it means Big Oil pockets our families’ money and Climate Change gets worse. Americans need a bridge to renewable energy – to a sustainable future for our children. We can and must figure this out with common sense and science… not panic.”

Large numbers of Western voters (81%) supported a science-based, precautionary approach to any offshore Arctic drilling. Strikingly, a strong majority of those respondents (57%) said it is very important for there to be a science based approach and response capabilities in place to minimize the consequences of oil development before any drilling occurs, even if it slows the timeframe for oil drilling. Californians reflected this region-wide support, with 82% stating it was important, and 58% stating it was very important. {Oregonians = 86% important, 61% very important; Washingtonians = 77% important, 53% very important}

In fact, when given various choices about oil drilling in the Arctic ranging from drilling everywhere to not drilling at all, a majority of voters (55% region-wide and 57% in California) support no drilling at all or drilling only onshore but not in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

More than 85% of respondents strongly supported a shift to renewable energy and 56% supported a tax on the oil profits to use as a bridge to renewable energy. More than 70% polled are concerned about the CO2 impacts of global climate change and ocean acidification and are willing to reduce oil consumption and CO2 emissions.

“Most Americans don’t believe panic drilling in the Arctic solves our energy crisis or addresses climate change problems. This poll shows that Americans want affordable energy while maintaining a healthy environment for their children’s future and they believe that we can do that through sound science and development of renewable energy alternatives” said Krenz.

Download the poll results.