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Majority Oppose ANWR Oil Drilling, Survey Says

Only 10 percent remain undecided on issue

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Dateline: February, 2005

A bipartisan national survey has found that by a margin of 53 percent to 35 percent, Americans oppose proposals to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The bipartisan telephone poll of 1,003 registered voters was conducted January 13-17, 2005, by Republican firm Bellwether Research and Democratic pollsters Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates for the Alaska Coalition, an alliance of national and local groups who favor protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Question: Should oil drilling be allowed in America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

53% -- Do Not Allow Oil Drilling

38% -- Allow Oil Drilling

The poll found a remarkable gap in intensity of feeling about drilling: 44% of respondents strongly oppose drilling, while just 25% strongly support it. Only about 10% were undecided on this issue.

"Voters believe there are some places that should simply be off-limits to oil drilling and the Arctic Refuge is one of them," said Celinda Lake of Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates, the Democratic polling firm that co-authored the bipartisan survey. "They believe we have a moral responsibility to protect this unique area, and the abundant birds and wildlife that live there, for future generations."

"One of the most striking findings from this poll is the degree to which voter opinion on the issue of drilling in the Arctic Refuge has solidified, moving from the realm of public policy issue to value," said Christine Matthews, of Bellwether Research & Consulting, the Republican polling firm that co-authored the bipartisan survey. "Only about 10 percent of Americans are undecided on this issue -- most people know where they stand when it comes to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

In a finding that is particularly relevant in the current debate over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an overwhelming majority -- 73 percent v. 18 percent -- agreed with a statement that the issue of drilling in the Arctic Refuge is "too important to the American public and future generations to be snuck through" in the budget process, and disagreed with drilling proponents’ argument in favor of allowing drilling as part of the budget. Senate Energy Committee Chairman Sen. Pete Domenici (R, NM) has announced his desire to attach a drilling proposal to the Senate budget resolution to circumvent the Senate’s normal process for contentious legislation.

Some Members of Congress say that drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be included as part of the budget bill because it is the best way to get it approved by Congress and that the royalties generated from drilling rights would be important for our federal budget, our economy, and our future. (18 percent agree)

Other Members of Congress say that the issue of oil drilling in the Arctic Refuge is too important to the American public and future generations to be snuck through in the budget bill in an attempt to circumvent the established process. It should be discussed and brought to a vote on its own merits. (73 percent agree)

"Polls consistently show that Americans want the oil companies to keep their drills out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director. "Americans are concerned about the irreparable damage to wildlife from drilling, and they know there are places like the Arctic Refuge that are too special to sacrifice."

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