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51% Say Gov't Should Force Oil Companies To Use Profits To Develop Alternative Energy


Voters strongly believe the United States is not doing enough to explore alternative sources of energy, and most still think oil companies should devote big money to searching for those types of energy.

Just 19% of Likely U.S. Voters feel the United States is already doing enough to develop alternative sources of energy, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national survey. Seventy-two percent (72%) disagree and think the country is not doing enough to explore alternative energy sources. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Voters are a little less supportive, however, of forcing oil companies to fund this kind of research. Fifty-one percent (51%) say the federal government should pass laws requiring oil companies to use a significant portion of their profits to search for alternative sources of energy. Thirty-one percent (31%) oppose laws of this kind, while another 19% are not sure which is the best course.

In June 2008 when energy policy was a top campaign issue, 61% favored requiring oil companies to spend a large share of their profits to find alternative energy sources, and just 22% were opposed.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters agree that private companies are more likely than a government research program to solve the nation's energy problems, an 18-point jump from three years ago. Twenty percent (20%) have more confidence in a government program to provide an energy solution. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.

Most voters also feel America needs to do more to develop domestic gas and oil resources. They still give the edge to finding new sources of oil over reducing gas and oil consumption.

Male voters feel more strongly than female voters that the United States is already doing enough to explore alternative sources of energy. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to agree.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Democrats and 50% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties think the government should pass laws requiring oil companies to devote a major part of their profits to searching for alternative sources of energy. A plurality (47%) of Republicans disagrees and opposes such a requirement.

But then 81% of Republicans and 68% of unaffiliated voters believe private companies are more likely than a government research program to solve the nation's energy problems. Just 47% of Democrats agree.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of Mainstream voters think private companies are the better bet when it comes to solving the nation's energy problems. The Political Class agrees but by a much narrower 46% to 30% margin. Political Class voters are slightly more supportive than Mainstream voters of requiring oil companies to use a significant portion of their profits to search for alterative energy sources.

Most Americans agree with President Obama's call to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but the majority also thinks it's unlikely America will reduce that dependence as much as the president would like.

Support for building new nuclear plants in America appears to have rebounded slightly even as the nuclear crisis in Japan continues. Forty-two percent (42%) think more nuclear power plants should be built in the United States, but 37% disagree.

Voters have consistently said for years that it is more important for the United States to develop alternative energy sources than to reduce the amount of energy currently being consumed.  

But Americans are no more enthusiastic than they were a year ago about buying a car that runs on alternative fuel.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site's content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Rasmussen Reports Platinum Members get an all-access pass to polling news, analysis and insight not available to the general public.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters U.S. Voters was conducted on June 26-27, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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©2011 Rasmussen Reports, LLC
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