A new poll commissioned by Investors Business Daily finds overwhelming majorities in favor of increased drilling and domestic production of oil. By a 3-1 margin, Americans identify runaway fuel prices as a bigger problem than global warming, and they want action taken immediately to address it. Even ANWR is on the table, although not by much:
The poll of 920 adults taken last week shows that 73% think “fuel prices at the pump” are a bigger problem for the country than climate change, the new term for global warming. Only 23% say climate change is more important.
The sentiment prevails across the board — among men and women, old and young, rich and poor, and Republicans, independents and Democrats, two-thirds of whom say gas prices are more important.
Support for offshore drilling and oil shale development is also broad-based, with the former favored by 64% of respondents and the latter by 65%.
The results suggest President Bush has strong public support as he puts pressure on Congress to back more exploration for oil.
While the numbers for drilling in the OCS and in the interior for shale transcend partisan and gender divisions, drilling in ANWR receives a bare plurality, 47-43. That indicates a political risk in pressing for drilling at that point, especially among women and working-class adults. The split occurs across partisan lines, and women oppose it 46-39.
The numbers indicate that McCain may have the right idea by keeping ANWR off the table. Including it now might give opponents a wedge to obstruct the rest of the drilling efforts and unnecessarily handicap efforts in the near term. The better strategy would be to leave ANWR off the table for the moment and ensure that the other initiatives succeed. Drilling proponents have a great hand to play in an election year without ANWR, and that option can get addressed at a later date.
President Bush took a big step yesterday in lifting the executive order banning off-shore drilling. Nancy Pelosi took a big step, too — backwards. As IBD notes, instead of looking for long-term solutions, she’s demanding that the US deplete its Strategic Reserve:
Despite polls showing Americans in favor of drilling more oil from America’s huge untapped supplies, Pelosi won’t allow it. She just wants to empty our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for a short-term fix to get through Election Day.
It’s an irresponsible suggestion, signaling not only an ignorance of how the economy works but also a willingness to place the nation at risk in the case of emergency.
Last Tuesday, Pelosi sent a letter to President Bush urging him to release a “small portion” of the nation’s 706 million barrels of strategic-reserve oil to bring down prices. Regardless of how one feels about whether reserves should be held at all, two big problems stand out with Pelosi’s tiny demand.
The proposal will leave us with little or no strategic reserve in case of war or natural disaster in the oil-producing regions. The Strategic Reserve doesn’t exist so that politicians can artificially lower gas prices before an election. It exists to protect the military capabilities of the nation in time of distress. Imagine, if you will, the outcry if Bush had started selling off the Strategic Reserve in September 2004 to lower prices before his re-election contest with John Kerry.
Second, as IBD points out, Pelosi has admitted that the issue is one of supply. That won’t get solved by selling off the SR; in fact, it will make the problem worse later, when the US has to refill the SR. The only solution for a supply crisis is to find more long-term supply sources — and we have massive resources here in the US that can fill that role.
The Democrats have painted themselves into a corner. Their anti-production policies have led the nation into crisis, and they could still lose this election if they continue to obstinately block long-term solutions to it. Instead, they’re offering gimmickry.