June 19th, 2008
04:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Poll: Majority of Americans favor oil drilling in off-limits areas

Pres. Bush and Sen. McCain favor ending the federal ban on off-shore oil drilling.
Pres. Bush and Sen. McCain favor ending the federal ban on off-shore oil drilling.

(CNN) – A new Gallup poll suggests more than half of the country may support a proposal backed by President Bush and Sen. John McCain to allow states to authorize off-shore oil drilling, a practice currently banned by the federal government.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans favor allowing oil drilling in coastal and wilderness areas that are currently off-limits. Forty-one percent of Americans oppose allowing drilling in those areas, and 2 percent have no opinion.

The poll also reveals a partisan divide on the issue. Eighty percent of Republicans surveyed favored opening up off-limits areas to oil exploration and 56 percent of independents favored allowing the practice. But 59 percent of Democrats opposed the idea.

During the last week, the prospect of oil drilling off the U.S. coast has become into a major policy dispute between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, respectively the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees, and between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The Gallup survey involved telephone interviews nationally with 1,013 adults aged 18 and older and was conducted May 19-21. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain • Polls • President Bush
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    2% of the world's oil lies beneath the United States. We consume 25% of the oil supplied to the world. Even a simpleton can see that the math doesn't work. Almost all of the oil that is drilled here is shipped out to the world market. Oil Companies already have hundreds of permits to drill in certain parts of this country, but they aren't. They have no motivation to do so when oil is already over $130 a barrel and climbing thanks to speculators. We need to enforce the laws that are already in place to keep speculators from raping the American people.

    June 19, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  2. BIFF, BIFFINGTON...

    DRILLING WILL NOT SOLVE THE GAS PRICE CRISIS....

    The only thing that will stop the price gouging is to shut down the SPECULATORS...

    IF THE OIL COMPANIES WANTED TO DRILL, THEY COULD HAVE EASILY GOTTEN IT THROUGH CONGRESS WHILE THE REPUBLICANS HAD THE HOUSE, SENATE, AND PRESIDENCY FOR SIX OF THE LAST 7 1/2 YEARS...

    Besides that... the oil companies ALREADY have MILLIONS of ACRES they are currently NOT drilling on (BECAUSE THEY DON'T "WANT" TO DRILL !) DON'T YOU GET IT???

    IT IS THE EXCACT SAME SCENARIO AS ENRON !!!!!

    SHUT DOWN THE ENRON LOOPHOLE AND YOU END THE "OIL SPECULATORS"...... END THE SPECULATION, AND YOU CUT THE PRICE BETWEEN 33% AND 50% BY "DEFLATING THE ARTIFICIAL BUBBLE" .....

    June 19, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  3. Beverly, NYC

    I bet the people who want it don't live near a coastline, if they had to look at it and suffer the environmental consequences the poll numbers would be different. Rigs are fine, just not in my backyard. Most people think they will see an immediate drop in gas prices this is not the case, it will be 5-10 years before anything happens. It would be faster to develop alternatives. Just because we lower consumption doesn't mean that China and India the biggest consumers will follow suit.

    June 19, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  4. Nevada Independant

    What a shame that this latest round of media blitzing by the Republicans and the Oil execs have fooled many Americans into believing that more off shore drilling will answer the gas price issue.
    Where is our responsible media?
    Their job is supposed to be to tell the Americans the truth on these types of issues. And, the truth is that new off shore drilling will do nothing to impact gas prices for at least 15 years. And, even then, we're talking about maybe 5 cents per gallon.
    I hope the American people wake up to the reality that more exploratory drilling is a farce offered up by oil-friendly Republicans. They are using this last-ditch opportunity to push through all of the crap they couldn't get through Congress in the past few years. They know that the clock is ticking on their time in power and they are getting desperate... trying so hard to convince the people that this is a real solution and the path toward energy independance.

    June 19, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  5. Kay

    LaShanda hit the nail on the head. Suppose we do open up the shores to drilling. We won't see any of it for years. This proposed drilling plan, along with the "gas tax holiday," are just feel-good ideas that contain no substance. Do some research before agreeing to something filled with "pretty" words. Did anyone ever consider that, if drilling gets an 'ok,' there could be another Exxon Valdez incident?

    June 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  6. Jenna

    Dear Union yes:

    Bush is not running for president, that was the last election. Just thought I should let you know. I am voting for McCain, too lower my gas and heating bill....

    Obama wants us to eat less, and quit consuming energy. He stated in Oregon that we should not drive SUV's, or keep our houses at 72 degrees and we must consume less food. If I wanted to live in a third world country I would vote for him.

    Democrat for McCain....

    June 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  7. Amusing...

    Yes, we must drill because oil companies will always act in the interest of the public good, not that of their shareholders. Why would they possibly keep prices high if they're taking in record profits? Surely they'll play by the free market and not keep their prices high while lowering their purchasing costs!

    June 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  8. Erica

    How is the America the superpower, when the dollar isn't worth the paper it's printed on and it relys on other countries for fuel. Can someone help me out?

    June 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  9. Becky

    Had we been drilling off shore and the 1% of Alaska wilderness we would not be in this mess. So what if it takes ten years to get oil out of these places? You think the cost of oil is going to go down in the next ten years?

    We need to get a head start and a handle on this problem, it's not going away. If we sit by and do nothing, we'll be having this insipid conversation again, next month, next year, the next decade, etc.

    June 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  10. Bill

    Of course the poll leans towards drilling in off-limits areas. The public is panicking because of the gas prices, and many don't realize that opening up new areas to drilling won't help in the short term, and will most likely cause harm in the long run. The oil companies already have a LOT of land leased to drill on, but they're not using it. Big Oil isn't the only culprit in the gas prices, but they are doing their fair share of damage to the economy. Let's not start tearing up protected areas on a wild goose chase to fix a problem that should have been dealt with years ago.

    June 19, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  11. Mark

    Most Americans are stupid. Just look at who they elected president.

    June 19, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  12. Nevada Independant

    Dear Janey,

    Please do some research into the demographics of the Democratic party. To claim that they are too rich to care is so absurd.
    And, the last time I checked, most fat-cat CEO's are registered Repubicans. Especially Big Oil execs.

    The reason many Dems (and independants like me, by the way) oppose this farce of a plan is that it is NO SOLUTION. It won't lower your gas price at the pump for many years. And, when it does, we're talking about a mere 3-5 cents per gallon.
    I think the risk of environmental damage far outweighs the supposed benefit.
    Do some research. Check the facts.

    June 19, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  13. Jenna

    Contrary, gas will realistically be down to $1.00 a gallon, sounds good to me. I heard that we have more oil in the United States than the Arabic countries have. We dont need to be dependant on them, and we dont need to be sending our hard earned cash to them for gas either. I dont want to continue paying for their terrorism efforts.

    Democrat for McCain and low cost gas

    June 19, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  14. Mike

    When you have Hannity, Limbaugh, O'Really, and Boortz towing the line for three hours a day on their programs, the listeners start repeating it verbatim – like zombies muttering "brains....brains...."

    June 19, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  15. I AM NOW AN INDEPENDENT!*********

    HAVEN'T WE SCREWED THE ENVIRONMENT UP ENOUGH ALREADY?

    IT ISN'T GOING TO HELP GAS PRICES NOW ANYWAY!

    June 19, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  16. Teddy, California

    According to a poll 3 years ago, about 60% opposed and 40% supported the oil drilling near the California coast. But the mood might be very different now. There was a recent poll in Florida (a couple of days) and majority supported the drilling. I supported drilling with strict environmental regulations. A blank ban is never a good idea. But it might be a good idea to keep this oil near the coast until the U.S. desperately needs the oil. We can treat it as another reserve for emergency. Are we at that desperate stage yet? McCain did get a lot of points by this proposal and the nuclear energy proposal. It shows he wants to do something while Obama has no plans. Of course, you can tell Americans to save energy, but you do that you lose elections.

    June 19, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  17. HEIDI

    THANK YOU TO ALL OF THOSE WHO ANSERED WITH SOME SENSE, WE WILL NOT SEE ANY PRICE REDUCTION IN GAS WITH DRILLING HERE IN THE USA, AND IF WE DO IT WON'T BE UNTIL MY 3 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER IS IN 8TH GRADE.

    June 19, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Are you people nuts? Just announcing that the US was going to open up the coastal areas to drilling would make world oil prices drop 10 bucks a barrel. The commodites players would run for cover the day it was announced.

    Besides, even if you did decide to open it up, the billions (with a B) that the government would make in lease fees and royalties would fund the alternative energy program.

    Anyone who makes arguments against this has a partisan agenda or is not looking at the facts.

    Open your eyes!

    June 19, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  19. T-Bone

    Are you people nuts? Just announcing that the US was going to open up the coastal areas to drilling would make world oil prices drop 10 bucks a barrel. The commodites players would run for cover the day it was announced.

    Besides, even if you did decide to open it up, the billions (with a B) that the government would make in lease fees and royalties would fund the alternative energy program.

    Anyone who makes arguments against this has a partisan agenda or is not looking at the facts.

    Open your eyes!

    June 19, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  20. Elle

    Will this help lower gas prices or will it keep helping the big oil companies that still seem to be raking in all the money?

    June 19, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  21. Matthew

    First, you ought to get more than a thousand people polled before reporting this stat. Second, the sooner we wean ourselves off the oil teat and start using alternative methods for fuel and energy, the better off and more independent we'll be. ... and the Middle East is laughing at us for other reasons, not just our addiction to fossil fuels.

    June 19, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  22. Connie

    I oppose drilling off the coast. The oil companies have million of acreage leased that they are not using. Now that Bush is about to leave office he wants to hand this gift to them. Now the big oil companies are going to Iraq and manage their oil fields after thousands of our soldiers have given their lives and many thousand will forever be disabled. I still believe this all smells , they believe that Obama is going to take over the office and big oil will not have the republican's in there pocket. If you believe this is going to lower our prices think again. This is just that much more oil that they can screw us over with. Wake up America. OBAMA 08

    Connie from Indiana

    June 19, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  23. nick, houston

    MARGIN OF ERROR OF +/- 4 points

    THAT IS A VERY INNACCURATE SURVEY!!!

    Shameful that this kind of innacurate survey makes news. CNN should know better.

    June 19, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  24. one4truth

    Doesn't anyone recognize the pattern, here? Create a problem (gas prices soaring for no apparent reason WHO could be responsible?) then propose a solution, hailed as the ONLY possible one to the problem . . . let them drill where they want. Now ask what happened to the car that could be running on Browns Gas (H-H-O) TODAY. No, you don't drive around with a tank full of hydrogen–it is produced on demand. Every attempt to bring this to market has been SHUT DOWN. Who would lose if we could each be driving without burning petroleum or ethanol? Follow the money.

    June 19, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  25. Agnes

    This is a loaded question set up for a loaded answer. I don't favor off shore drilling! What a waste of money. Why when there are so many alternative energy sources available? Solar, geothermal, methane, etc... that are less expensive and better for the environment. We must end the dependency on oil period.

    June 19, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
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