Zogby: Majority Still Backs Offshore Drilling

Tuesday, 11 May 2010 04:53 PM

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Despite the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 57 percent of likely voters believe that offshore drilling "is still a safe, reliable and cost-efficient method of producing oil," according to a Zogby Interactive poll.

However, 53 percent also agree that expansion of offshore drilling will lead to increased environmental problems.

The results from this May 7-10 poll of 2,068 likely voters are consistent with the finding of a similar Zogby survey conducted a week that found 63 percent agreeing with the Obama administration's plans to allow expansion of offshore drilling in the Atlantic.

The opinions reflect Americans’ addiction to oil, said pollster John Zogby.
" Even though a majority anticipates environmental problems from offshore drilling, similar numbers still think it is safe, reliable and cost-effective,” Zogby said. “For now at least, economic concerns outweigh worries about the environment, and a small majority of voters are willing to risk the latter for the sake of cheaper oil and a reduced dependence on oil from nations that may not like us."

The latest poll also shows that British Petroleum's efforts to cap the spill and its public announcements about it are having a small positive impact on public opinion toward BP. Zogby’s April 30-May 3 poll found that 19 percent of likely voters gave BP positive ratings of excellent or good for its handling of the spill. The more recent poll found that number rising to 25 percent, while the percentage giving a grade of fair rose from 22 percent to 34 percent.

Both surveys also ask three other common questions about BP and the spill:
  • The likelihood of respondents’ not buying gas from a BP station because of the spill has increased slightly from 17 percent to 20 percent.
  • The percentage who believe that BP is "an environmentally friendly company" has risen from 29 percent to 35 percent.
  • The percentage rating BP's response as better than that of Exxon's to the Valdez spill has risen six points, from 34 percent to 40 percent. Seven percent say BP's response was worse than that of Exxon, and the rest believe the responses are the same or are not sure.
A majority of respondents to the latest survey believes that BP should cover the cleanup costs. Almost 75 percent say BP should be forced to compensate fishermen and others who depend on the gulf for their livelihood, and 78 percent say BP should be most responsible for the clean-up (13 percent would have the drilling contractor, Transocean LTD, be most responsible.)

Several members of the Obama administration have described one of its main goals as "keeping the boot on the throat of BP" to get the company to resolve the spill, and 47 percent agree it has been successful in doing so.

Voters are split on whether the administration responded to the spill in a timely manner, with 47 percent saying the response was timely and 42 percent saying it was delayed. Exactly one-half agree that BP did not respond in a timely manner, and 36 percent believe BP reacted in a timely fashion.

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