The University of Texas at Austin recently released the fifth wave of its ongoing Energy Poll – a survey of over 2,000 Americans’ attitudes on a number of energy-related issues. The survey includes an array of questions, from opinions on gasoline prices to public policy. But one finding truly stands out: An overwhelming majority of Americans supports natural gas.
A few key points include from the survey:
- More than 80 percent of Americans say the federal government should focus on developing more natural gas;
- Clear majorities of Americans see benefits of domestic natural gas production. Those include creating jobs (which 68 percent see as a benefit of development), lowering costs (68 percent), energy security (64 percent), increasing energy efficiency (64 percent), boosting manufacturing (61 percent), and lowering carbon emissions (57 percent);
- 61 percent say they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported natural gas development, which is tied for the highest among all the categories listed;
- More respondents said we should promote hydraulic fracturing on public lands than said we should ban it; and
- A plurality agrees that hydraulic fracturing on public lands is necessary to meet current energy demand.
It’s easy to see why so many Americans support natural gas. Just ask Pennsylvanians and New Yorkers who are breathing the cleanest air in decades. Talk to Coloradoans who are finding jobs, or Texans whose state treasury is bolstered by oil and gas development.
The Obama administration has also touted the importance of natural gas in America’s energy mix. As EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently stated in August 2013, “responsible development of natural gas is an important part of our work to curb climate change and support a robust clean energy market at home.” President Obama himself has also noted the critical role of natural gas in his 2013 Climate Action Plan. As he stated in June:
“Burning natural gas is about one-half as carbon-intensive as coal, which can make it a critical ‘bridge fuel’ for many countries as the world transitions to even cleaner sources of energy.”
President Obama’s Interior secretary Sally Jewell also recently stated that hydraulic fracturing is “essential” and that natural gas is providing a number of benefits for the American people:
“Working hand in hand with industry, we have an opportunity to use innovative technologies to capture natural gas to power more homes with cleaner American-made energy, while reducing methane emissions and cutting carbon pollution.” (link)
As we and the Obama administration all know, the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling is key to continued safe development of America’s natural gas resources – and with it the wide array of benefits that Americans are experiencing. And try as opponents have (for years, now!) to convince us that natural gas is dangerous and devoid of any meaningful benefits, the public simply isn’t buying what they’re selling.