Zogby Poll: No Mandate for Arctic Refuge Drilling

National survey finds Americans favor alternative energy, conservation

12-21-2004 // NWF Media Team

WASHINGTON, DC -- A Zogby poll released today finds that a majority of Americans oppose drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and "undermines any contention that the election outcome represented a mandate to drill in the Refuge," said Larry Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation president.

According to the survey, 55 percent of Americans are against opening the Refuge to drilling, while only 38 percent favor it.

"Now as ever, the American people understand that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is too wild to waste," Schweiger said. "Americans know that it is wrong to spoil the Refuge's pristine wildlife habitat for a few months' supply of oil that won't come online for a decade."

Emboldened by the election outcome and high gas prices, drilling proponents recently resurrected a push to open the Arctic Refuge to drilling, a plan that has been repeatedly defeated amid public outcry and Congressional opposition but remains among the Bush administration's top domestic priorities.

Today's poll shows that a majority of Americans prefer alternative energy and conservation (80 percent) over increased domestic drilling (17 percent).

"America needs a smart energy policy, not a drilling frenzy," Schweiger said. "There are cleaner, safer, cheaper ways of meeting America's energy needs than sacrificing the Arctic Refuge, and the public knows it."

The poll also finds that the American public opposes, by more than a 2 to 1 margin (59 percent to 25 percent), attaching Arctic Refuge drilling to the federal budget bill, a legislative maneuver designed to avoid open debate that drilling advocates will likely attempt in the upcoming Congressional session. A plurality of Republicans (41 percent v. 37 percent) and Bush voters (43 percent v. 38 percent) think the drilling proposal does not belong in the budget bill.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a delicate ecosystem and an important habitat for polar bears, caribou, musk oxen and many other wildlife species. It is the ancestral home of the Gwich'in people, who rely on an unspoiled Arctic Refuge for their culture and way of life.

The poll was commissioned by several leading conservation groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, the Wilderness Society, the Alaska Wilderness League and the Sierra Club. Zogby International conducted interviews of 1,203 likely voters chosen at random nationwide. All calls were made from Zogby International headquarters in Unitca, NY, from 12/13/04 through 12/15/04.

The poll's margin of error is +/- 2.9 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Slight weights were added to region, party, age race, religion and gender to more accurately reflect the voting population. Numbers have been rounded to the nearest percent and might not total 100.

Poll results:

Q: Do you think oil companies should be allowed to drill for oil in America's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

Allowed to drill: 38 percent
Not allowed to drill: 55 percent
Not sure: 7 percent

Q: Which of the following options do you think is the best way to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil?

C. Rely less on oil and gas and expand development of alternative forms of energy like wind, solar and ethanol: 41 percent

B. Conserve more, waste less, and develop more fuel-efficient cars so we use less oil and gas: 39 percent

A. Drill for more oil and gas in the U.S., including areas within wildlife refuges and other public lands, to increase our domestic energy supply: 17 percent

Not sure: 4 percent

Q; In the next few months, Congress is likely to vote on allowing oil drilling within the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Some members of Congress say that drilling for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge should be included as part of the budget bill because they say that the royalties generated from drilling rights are important for our federal budget, our economy and our future. Other members of Congress say that a bipartisan majority has repeatedly rejected this idea. They say that this new proposal to drill for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge is a back door maneuver that has nothing to do with the budget and everything to do with the oil companies’ political influence. What do you think?

These proposals are back door maneuvers and have nothing to do with the budget: 59 percent (Republicans - 41 percent; Bush voters - 43 percent).

Drilling in the Refuge should be included as part of a budget bill: 25 percent (Republicans - 37 percent; Bush voters - 38 percent)

Don't know/not sure: 16 percent

Zogby release available at http://www.zogby.com/news/readnews.cfm?ID=946

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization protecting wildlife for our children's future.

Immediate Release: December 21, 2004

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