Public perceptions on the environment and energy issues

I am pleased to report the results from the first national poll conducted by Environmental Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at Seton Hall University. The poll found that 89 percent of respondents said that the environment and energy issues impact the quality of their family’s life a lot, while 7 percent said that it impacted them a little and only 3 percent said that it had no impact on them at all. This poll also found that 70 percent of the respondents are following the presidential election and the candidates’ positions on the environment and energy very closely.

Respondents believed that economic strength and environmental protection are linked, with 41 percent of all respondents stating that stronger environmental protection is more likely to help the economy. About a quarter of respondents (27 percent) believe that stronger environmental protection is more likely to hurt the economy.

Meanwhile, 51 percent of respondents said that Barack Obama has a better approach to handling environmental issues in a time of financial crisis, compared to 28 percent who feel that John McCain has the better approach. Despite this finding, only 25 percent of the respondents feel that the environment will improve over the next five years.

In other findings:

When considering potential features of a new energy plan for the US, 62 percent of the respondents favor increased domestic oil production, including offshore drilling, while only 42 percent of the population agrees with the construction of nuclear power plants as another source of energy. An overwhelming majority of the respondents, 92 percent support the development of renewable energy sources, while 84 percent think that mandating higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles is essential.

QUESTIONNAIRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES POLL

How closely have you been following the presidential candidates’ positions on environmental and energy issues?

Very closely 31%
Somewhat closely 39%
Not too closely 19%
Not at all closely 10%

Do you believe that the environment is an important issue in this election?

Yes 80%
No 18%

How much would you say that energy and environmental issues impact the quality of life of your family?

A lot 57%
Some 32%
A little 7%
Not at all 3%

Do you strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the statement, “I have a moral responsibility to take care of the creations of God on this earth – the animals, wilderness and forests, oceans, lakes and rivers?”

Strongly Agree 42%
Agree 47%
Disagree 5%
Strongly Disagree 2%

In five years, do you think the condition of the environment will be:

Better? 25%
The Same? 25%
Worse? 43 %

Do you think stronger environmental protection will most likely:

Hurt the Economy 27%
Help the Economy 41%
Have No Effect on the Economy 22%

Both John McCain and Barack Obama believe that a new energy policy is important to the future of the US economy. I will list potential features of a new energy plan, and for each one, please say whether you agree, have no opinion, or disagree that they should be included in such a plan:

a. Increasing domestic oil production, including offshore drilling

Agree 63%
Disagree 10%
No Opinion 23%

b. Requiring higher fuel efficiency standards from automobile companies

Agree 84%
Disagree 4%
No Opinion 9%

c. Developing renewable energy sources such as wind power, solar power, and geothermal power

Agree 92%
Disagree 4%
No Opinion 2%

d. Building nuclear power plants

Agree 42%
Disagree 16%
No Opinion 38%

Between John McCain and Barack Obama, which candidate do you feel would have the best approach for handling environmental issues at a time of financial crisis?

John McCain 28%
Barack Obama 51%
Neither 9%

Public perceptions on the environment and energy issues