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Survey Says? Affordable Energy Top of Mind in U.S.

By Alex Kasdin

With the 2012 presidential election looming, Americans are starting to focus on the issues that are most important to them. For 8 in 10 Americans surveyed in a recent poll conducted by the AP-NORC Center, one of those issues is energy: only the economy, education, and healthcare ranked higher. Affordable energy is so important to Americans that fewer than 20 percent of people listed a summer vacation or a new smartphone as a higher priority than lowering their energy bill. According to the poll, they’re saving energy by using less electricity and using more efficient appliances, among other things.

What they’re not doing, however, is buying more fuel-efficient cars or hitching rides to work with their friends. In fact, people said altering their transportation habits to save energy was one of the hardest lifestyle changes they could make. Transportation is second only to industry in how much energy it uses, though, which means Americans will probably have to do more than turn off the lights to make a dent in their energy costs.

The Cornell Survey Research Institute, meanwhile, has also just released its own energy-related poll. This one focuses on New York State residents’ attitudes toward natural-gas drilling, and the results show that New Yorkers don’t want more of it. In recent years, gas prices have dropped thanks largely to new drilling techniques, especially fracking. But fracking has been criticized for the damage it does to the environment. The poll found that nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers believe that the environmental risks of more natural gas exploitation outweigh the benefits.

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