Voters Support Energy Development on Public Lands, State Authority

May 11, 2015
  • Nationwide survey shows support for increasing domestic oil, natural gas production
  • Voters overwhelmingly endorse state regulation on public lands, management of endangered species
  • Strong support for Congress overturning crude oil export ban

(DENVER) – Americans strongly support using resources on public lands to produce energy and giving states more control over regulating those activities. According to a poll commissioned by Western Energy Alliance, 60 percent of likely voters support increasing energy production on multiple-use public lands, which do not include national parks and wilderness areas.

When asked about other issues related to the oil and natural gas industry, voters expressed overwhelming support for states taking a leading role in wildlife conservation, including endangered species. Support was strong for Congress overturning the crude oil export ban, with majorities across political parties in favor of repeal.

“Americans continue to have a favorable impression of how oil and natural gas is produced in the United States. For that reason, they support boosting energy development on public lands by transferring authority to state agencies, which have a better track record of protecting the environment than federal regulators,” said Tim Wigley, president of Western Energy Alliance. “People trust states to make the right decisions. Voters understand that states across the West continually review and update regulations, and that is why there was such visceral reaction to recent federal fracking rules in places like Wyoming, Colorado and North Dakota.”

Western Energy Alliance commissioned the Tarrance Group to conduct a national telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters from April 12-16.  The margin of error is + 3.1 percent. Highlights from the survey include:

State Role in Regulating Industry

  • A combined 77 percent support giving states complete or shared authority with the federal government in managing and regulating activities on public lands within their borders.
  • On oversight of energy development on public lands, a combined 62 percent picked state and local governments, which are flexible and adaptable to local conditions, to have prime authority. Only 34 percent preferred the federal government.

State Role in Wildlife Conservation

  • 73 percent favor state agencies to manage wildlife within their boundaries.
  • 79 percent support updating the Endangered Species Act to give state wildlife agencies more control over management and recovery of species within their states.

Overturning Export Ban

  • 57 percent of likely voters agreed Congress should overturn the 1975 crude oil export ban to allow trade with allied nations.
  • Majority support exists for reversing the export ban across political parties, with 65 percent among Republicans and 51 percent among both Democrats and Independents.

“Congressional action on lifting the ban on crude oil exports is not a partisan issue. A balanced majority across all parties agree Congress should move forward,” said Wigley. “Voters understand that changing this dated policy and expanding trade will lead to savings at the pump and economic growth for the country.”

A summary and full results of the Alliance’s survey are available online.

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