A new Pew survey conducted last week has indicated a shift in attitudes regarding the use of renewable energy.
According to Pew's findings, 52% of those surveyed now say it's very important to explore sustainable resources like wind and solar to address the nation’s energy demand while 39% see expanding the production of oil, coal and natural gas as the more important priority.
On the surface, these seem like pretty favorable numbers. But hang on. The same poll conducted one year ago (March 2011) found the margin between renewable energy and non-renewable energy to be much larger (63% to 29%), a ten-point gain in exploration of oil, coal and natural gas.
Here are some of the other results, which are a mixed bag to say the least:
65% support increased offshore oil and gas drilling while 31% oppose. These numbers are back to pre-BP oil spill levels.
78% favor requiring better fuel efficiency on all vehicles.
68% favor more federal spending on renewable energy technology.
44% support an increase in nuclear power while 49% are opposed, which is a solid rise from last year’s numbers right after the Fukushima disaster (39% in favor and 53% opposed).
Of those surveyed who know a bit about fracking, 52% support it while 35% do not support it.
Not surprisingly, conservatives are far more likely to support offshore drilling (89% versus 50% of Democrats) and giving tax cuts to energy companies for oil and gas exploration.
81% of Democrats and 70% of independents support increased funding for renewable energy versus 52% of Republicans.
Republicans overwhelmingly prefer to prioritize non-renewable energy sources over renewable sources (65% to 26% margin) whereas the gap was far smaller a year ago (47% oil, coal and natural gas vs. 43% renewable sources).