Americans are unhappy with where the country is headed when it comes to energy issues. The University of Texas at Austin’s inaugural Energy Poll, which surveyed 3,400 consumers in September, reports that 84 percent of Americans are worried about U.S. consumption of foreign oil, and 76 percent are concerned about what they see as a lack of progress toward using energy more efficiently and developing renewable energy resources.
The poll, which was developed by the McCombs School of Business’ Energy Management and Innovation Center, with collaboration from polling experts, nongovernmental organizations, large energy users and energy producers, seeks to provide objective information on consumer attitudes about energy issues. Moving forward, the school plans to conduct the poll biannually, and future versions of the poll will provide an “energy index” that will allow the team to follow trends in consumer opinions on energy issues over time.
While the poll found that the majority of Americans care about energy issues, most of them are dissatisfied with current U.S. leadership on this issue – especially by government and big business. Congress was the ultimate scapegoat, receiving an approval rating of 8 percent. Not surprisingly, jobs were found to be the top national priority right now. However, unlike a recent poll conducted by ACI, the UT researchers did not ask respondents to make a connection between energy investment and job creation.
The poll also reveals that the most immediate energy issue for consumers is price. The majority of survey respondents think energy prices are too high and expect them to increase. In addition, most of the respondents are pessimistic about the prospects for the nation’s energy situation in 25 years. However, younger and Democratic voters were more optimistic. Younger respondents were also more likely to say they expect to use new energy technologies in the next five years, including smart meters, solar panels and hybrid or electric vehicles.