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. Ratgurl

    A poll of oil-Baron Americans? I seriously don't know a SOUL who is in favor of this drilling!

    June 19, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. Dominic MacCormack

    This is sad news. Really quite depressing. To the Americans who were in this poll, who think that opening up oil drilling in pristine, off-limits areas will do wonders for our economy and drastically reduce oil prices: think again. To the Americans that belive more oil supply is the asnwer to our problems: think again. To the millions of Americans who are failing to see the long-term impacts of increased reliance on oil: think again.
    I say think again because oil is the product to which we are addicted. It is a finite resource, and in a few years, especially at our rate of consumption of oil, we are going to be faced with the exact same situation–lots of demand, and not a lot of supply.
    We truly MUST invest in renewable energy on the order of billions of dollars. This is money well-spent. Money that will go towards energy production that a) doesn't affect wildlife; b) does not contribute additional greenhouse gas emissions into the earth's atmosphere; and c) ensures that our future, our children's future, and our grandchildren's future is not dominated by war and conflict for the few drops of oil that are left.

    We must also demand from our elected leaders that sustainable transportation options are available for people. That means hybrid buses, electric light rail, bicycle rental programs, walkable communities, subways...there are so many options.

    You may save a few cents a gallon if new reserves are explored. Are those cents worth gambling the economic future of our country, the stability of our atmosphere, and the safety of our world? Any intelligent, thoughtful, and sensible person would say no.

    Please, do the world and future generations a favor and think about it.

    June 19, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  3. 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…

    ADDITIONALLY, the oil companies ALREADY haveTENS OF THOUSANDS OF LEASES FOR MILLIONS of ACRES they are currently NOT drilling on.

    (BECAUSE THEY DON'T "WANT" TO DRILL !) DON'T YOU GET IT???

    WHAT IS 'THEIR' MOTIVATION TO DRILL????? "LOWER" PROFITS?

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

    SHUT DOWN THE ENRON LOOPHOLE (which is really a full blown law) AND YOU END THE "OIL SPECULATORS"…… END THE SPECULATION, AND YOU CUT THE PRICE BETWEEN 33% AND 50% BY "DEFLATING THE ARTIFICIAL BUBBLE" …..

    this is the only immediate relief available..... and the republicans block the democrats each time they try to close this loophole/repeal this law!

    June 19, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  4. Hispanic For McCain

    Once again why are we fighting as you can see McCain has better Ideas than OBAMA. I said before and I will say it again Puerto Rican voted for Hillary Clinton not Barrack Obama. The puertoRican people knows that Obama will never do anything for the Puerto Rican People. Just ask the Puerto Rican in Chicago they don't like him. John McCain will pick up most of the Puerto Rican Votes in NY, NJ, CT, MA. FL and all of Bronx, and Man NY. My whole famaily is Democrate but will not vote for OBAMA.

    McCain 2008
    Hillary Clinton 2012

    June 19, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  5. charles Ingrasci

    Drilling benefits are very long term and nearly inconsequential. Best estimates are that if all areas were opened for drilling, gasoline prices would drop about 1% by 2027 ($.04 per gallon). American oil goes onto the world market, not to the USA. This is another Shell game.

    June 19, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  6. College student from Florida

    I don't trust the oil companies. How do we know they aren't raising gas prices on purpose for this reason? How do we know it'll benefit us and not them? When will be stop listening to everything President Bush says? I mean serious? Is 4000+ American troops dead, economic catastrope, global anti-American sentiments among a tall list of things not enough. If they go through with this and something terrible wrong happens, I'm just going to laugh. Once again no one listens to the democrat :( so sad.

    June 19, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  7. michael

    Again some Americans areTRULY uninformed. If you do decide to drill for oil you wont see ANY of it for a long long time. Then the demand will be so great from India and China etc etc that it still wont be enough...get real.. forget oil think about other energy sources that are indeed self fulfilling and will promote a healthy planet..Stop thinking so short term for God's sake!!!! That's how George W got in for a second term..and a lot of good that did!!!!

    June 19, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  8. Tyler

    Jenna,
    The US has about 2-3% of the world's oil. Definitely not more than Arab countries. Drilling will have no effect. There is drilling in Canada, it's $5.20 a gallon.

    June 19, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. tom

    This is because most people don't know anything about the issue. First of all, if you end up granting more leases, that doesn't mean the Govt. will have the authority to direct5 sales domestically. Much of the oil wil go oversees as exports, which will give bigger profits to Big Oil and although it will help our exports and increase the crude supply, it won't do anything to increase refining capacity.

    Use the leases you have and build more refneries. expanding the drilling leases is a stupid gimick.

    June 19, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. BIFF, BIFFINGTON...

    red33 said:
    If Clinton had not vetoed the bill authorizing drilling 10 years ago, we would not be in the fix we are now. We need to stop this insanity, which is going on in our Democratic congress. Remember, they have alot of money, and care nothing that we have to pay more for fuel.

    RED.... HOW COME THE REPUBLICANS DID NOT RAM IT THROUGH WHEN THEY HAD THE HOUSE, THE SENATE, AND THE WHITE-HOUSE FOR SIX OF THE LAST SEVEN (AND A HALF) YEARS??????

    answer..... BECAUSE THEY REALLY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT DRILLING.... if it would make them more money, they would do it.

    controlling the price via speculation keeps it high.... more drilling would lower it in about 10 years... there is no reward nor incentive for the oil companys to do it.... which is why... when they had the chance....
    THEY IGNORED IT!

    June 19, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. won't save YOU a dime

    Drilling here and there won't lower gas prices ... it will only continue to make Bush' s fat-cat oilmen pals richer .... nothing more.

    We need to create a sustainable and renewable energy program and only then will be a strong nation once again.

    June 19, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  12. CJ

    McCain, Bush, and now overcooked Crist are saying the offshore drilling is good and will help when they first disagreed and said we are addicted to oil. Hopefully everyone will wake up to these spindoctors fairy dust and realize that we will not see any significant savings until many many years from now, and it won't be that much when we do. This idea of drilling offshore won't fool the American people no more than the stupid gas tax holiday-all gimmicks to get someone in office. At least the windfall profits tax from Obama will force energy companies to think twice as well as allow America to start building up reserves to start investing wisely in alternative fuels. People may not like Obama personally, but in November everyone will have stark choices to make: Stay in Iraq and continue fighting or withdraw to pre-surge levels; Focus on the economy to actually get a energy policy in place or don't. It's as simple as that-which candidate will best benefit your family in the long run on all of these issues.

    June 19, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  13. Anita from Arizona

    Its basic math, which some people have a problem with. DEMAND is the issue, not SUPPLY. Nothing will change if we drill off the coast now. You won't see any changes for about 5 to 10 years and then it won't last because we'll run out of that in 3 years. Yeah, sure. Alternative fuels are the way. Can't someone invent a device that can lower the use of gas in my car now? I'd spent money on that and get relief from the gas pumps right away.

    June 19, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  14. Linda Smith

    We need to do what we can to bring the price down.
    Maybe we need to change things.

    I am glad you post this information.

    Very very interesting.

    Linda
    attentiontodetailgifts.com
    letspartnerforresults.com

    June 19, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  15. tom, boston

    The same majority LOVED the thought of stealing Iraqi oil and supported the War gladly.

    they deserve every bit of hardship and then some that they have brought on themselves.

    where's justice for the iraqis murdered, maimed, or humiliated?

    America will keep paying, and paying , and paying.

    June 19, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  16. John Smith

    America NEEDS to get over this military mentality! There are tons and tons of people who have and continue to serve this nation:

    1. What about teachers who shape the minds and hearts of our youths for the future?

    2. What about parents who toil each day to keep some of us alive?

    3. What about the factory worker who is there on a daily basis to build things for the nation?

    4. What about judges, lawyers and any law-enforcement agency involved in keeping our laws and communities safe?

    5. What about farmer, without whom we will all die of starvation?

    Have all these people not served this nation equally as the military?
    Members of my family have lots of military members, but this nation is forgetting ours who have equally continued to serve this nation!

    June 19, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  17. The straight talk express??

    John McCain completely flip-flopped on this isue. He supported the ban on offshore drilling for years. Now he completely changes course because he thinks he can win a few votes.....pathetic.

    June 19, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  18. Mike Florida

    How many of the 57% live in coastal areas?
    I am also being hurt by the high gas prices, but I would still rather see us invest in research into other fuel sources. ie wind ,solar ,hydrogen. We wont even see a drop of oil from any new drilling for 5 to 10 years.

    June 19, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  19. Some Thoughts

    Unfortunately there are two major obstacles abut drilling for oil that are within the oil companies themselves. One, it is very expensive to drill for oil, make the support structures needed to drill, ship, and refine it, distribute it, etc. Second, as oil companies are profit maximizers and oil has a very inelastic demand (quantity demanded does not change much with a change in price), decreasing price and increasing their quantity supplied will in fact cause them to make less money.

    Additonally, as an oligopoly supply market with a non-differentiated product, it is very easy for the different firms to engage in collusive activity that isn't direct. Generally the way it works is that the largest producer sets a price and the other firms set theirs in a general area around it.

    Simply put, the oil companies will increase their supply as long as they can maintain current profits and only to the extent of maximizing production at their already active production facilities. Then, if demand at their current price continues to rise enough, they will consider expanding production facilities. This is due to the fact that the two main costs are from building more buildings (drilling stations, refineries, etc.) and staffing them. The more they make, the more it costs for them.

    June 19, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  20. Linda31

    Bet they don't know that it will not make a difference in our pocketbooks for years to come.

    June 19, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  21. FactCheck

    Closing the Enron loophole would've cut oil prices by up to 50% because it would have prevented investors from speculating. Guess who voted against it? That's right, McFlip-flop. Guess who created the loophole? Right again, the wife of Phil Gramm, economic advisor for McFlip-flop.

    June 19, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  22. Emma, San Jose, CA

    Before we are asked to give our opinion about oil drilling, we need to be provided with much more information about consequences, time lines, ownership and management of the drilling and consumption of the oil under the ocean. I think the jobs it could produce would be important, but I wonder if contracts would be made with foreign producers. That worries me.

    June 19, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  23. MLG

    DRILL!!!! DRILL!!! DRILL!! DRILL! McCain/Huckabee 08

    June 19, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. Franky

    "They don't care because they won't have to see it. Well, how would they feel with an oil rig in their backyard?"

    We can look in our backyard for oil??? I'll do it!! I'll do it!!! LOL!!!

    Ohhh and I'm baaack.....LOL!!!!

    June 19, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  25. Ken

    Hitler ran an entire Army on Synthetic fuels and we need to mess up the everglades to keep buring Oil in 2030, You baby Boomers won't to deal with the crap your doing by 2030 Us Gen Y ers' will, let us make the decision on whether or not we should rape our country for profit.

    June 19, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
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