As the BP oil disaster drags on, the public’s desire for clean energy investments and increased oversight of corporate polluters has greatly intensified.  CAP’s Daniel J. Weiss and intern Ariel Powell have the important data and charts from a major new poll.

The League of Conservation Voters commissioned a poll by the Benenson Strategy Group, President Obama’s pollster in 2008, to measure public support for clean energy reform in the wake of the BP oil disaster.   The central finding is that the public wants real changes in our energy policies:

In the aftermath of the spill, people firmly believe Congress needs to do more than just make BP pay. They understand America needs more than a band-aid; we need real, comprehensive energy reform.

BSG surveyed 800 people nationwide from May 25 to June 1, and compared the results to a similar poll taken in May.  The poll found growing support – and intensity – to “regulate corporate polluters” instead of simply to “invest in clean energy sources.”

Two thirds of the respondents in June supported more regulation on corporate polluters, up from 65 percent in May, less than a month ago. Similarly, 65 percent of people support increased investment in clean energy sources, up from only 57 percent in May.  The number of those who feel most strongly about additional regulation increased by nearly twenty percent.


The poll did not pull any punches when asking whether people wanted real reform.  Only 23 percent of those polled agree that,

We need to ensure that BP pays every last dime of the damages they’ve caused, but Senators would be wrong to try to use this tragedy to pass some huge new Washington program and job-killing energy tax.

Two-thirds of the respondents agree that,

BP must pay for the damage they’ve done. But our addiction to oil threatens our security and we need more than a band-aid for that. Senators need to pass real reforms to hold polluters accountable and invest in clean energy.

BSG found overwhelming support for an energy bill that would,

Limit pollution, invest in domestic energy sources and encourage companies to use and develop clean energy. It would do this in part by charging energy companies for carbon pollution in electricity or fuels like gas.

Overall, 63% of those likely to vote in 2010 supported it with only 29 percent opposing it.

  • Democrats: 81 percent support, 14 percent oppose.
  • Independents: 63 percent support, 27 percent oppose.
  • Republicans: 45 percent support, 47 percent oppose.

Not only is there broad support for comprehensive clean energy legislation, voters also want solutions now.  Those polled were more likely to vote against their Senator if she/he voted to delay action than they were if their Senator simply opposed the energy bill.


This strong support for the energy bill holds up even in the face of strong opposition. After hearing the following messages, 64 percent of likely 2010 voters supported the energy bill while only 25 percent opposed it.

  • Opposition Message: This “Cap and Tax” bill is nothing more than a job-killing energy tax. It puts a huge new tax on gasoline, driving up the price you pay right at the pump, which is the last thing our economy needs right now. This bill will cost middle class families, who are already struggling to get by, $2,000 a year. First, the bailouts, then healthcare…now Congress wants another $660 billion of taxpayers’ hard earned money for a wasteful Washington program that would kill jobs across the country.
  • Support Message: Oil companies and lobbyists have fought energy reform for decades to protect their profits. But American can’t afford another $20 billion oil spill catastrophe. And we can’t afford to keep sending a billion dollars a day overseas for foreign oil. It hurts our economy, helps our enemies and puts our security at risk. Congress needs to stand up to the oil companies and special interests funding their campaigns. They need to pass real reform that puts America back in control of its energy situation – with clean energy sources that are made in America and work for America.

The poll also found that a majority of independent voters – by 2.5 to 1 – “would be more likely to re-elect a bill supporter.”

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