Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Emerging Consensus on Energy?


A new survey by the Pew Research Center indicates that a healthy majority of Americans support increased energy exploration and production as well as limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Pew characterizes these results as "mixed signals" but they seem fairly clear--the majority of Americans support a moderate approach to energy, one that comes closer to what Obama has been advocating than either the Left or Right would like to admit. This may come as a surprise given the BP disaster, but it probably shouldn't surprise us given the slow and unsteady pace of the economic recovery.

The consensus shows growing support for an environmental friendly energy policy and economy. Indeed, the most telling single line in the report is in regards to "an
overall goal for U.S. energy policy, 56% say it is more important to protect the environment, while 37% say it is more important to keep energy prices low." 56% vs. 37% indicates that we have an emerging consensus on energy, though not a large or stable one. It may be that significant divides remain or that a new middle way is opening in which the environment comes first and price second. Unfortunately, it is not yet a bipartisan consensus capable of doing heavy lifting. I'm not sure what that will take, but apparently more than BP's best or worst efforts.

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