The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Poll Finds Support for Offshore Drilling on East Coast

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted June 5, 2009

A new public opinion poll indicates that Americans living in mid-Atlantic coastal areas support offshore drilling. In the survey conducted in April, Monmouth University researchers found 46 percent of coastal residents from Virginia to New York favor offshore energy exploration; 37 percent were opposed and 12 percent offered no opinion.

The survey, "Life on the Mid-Atlantic Coast 2009," also gauged the importance of the coast and ocean to the residents' lives and found that 90 percent spend time on the beach or swimming in local waters, half go fishing regularly and 50 percent enjoy boating. Seventy percent say that their daily activities affect the quality of the coastal environment, and three-quarters say protecting the coastline should be a high priority.

Still, these same individuals polled tend to believe that using the oceans for energy production is a worthy goal. As the study says, 82 percent of residents would support offshore windmills beyond the horizon and nearly half support drilling for oil or natural gas--up from 33 percent a year ago.

"They understand what the benefits of leasing, exploration and production will mean to their local community, and to America--in terms of revenues, jobs and energy security," said API's President Jack Gerard. "And they recognize that this development is compatible with tourism and can be conducted in an environmentally safe way."

During the past couple of years, several surveys found even stronger support for offshore drilling. A poll conducted in February by Harris Interactive and commissioned by API found that 61 percent of Americans who voted in the 2008 presidential election believe the oil and natural gas industry should have access to offshore energy resources. Only 26 percent opposed. Various polls conducted by Pew, Rasmussen and several news organizations echo these results. And recently, the Florida House of Representatives voted to allow energy exploration off the western coast of Florida in an area that has been off-limits to drilling for many years.

Also, a recent study conducted by ICF International found that allowing energy production on U.S. onshore and offshore areas that have been off-limits could generate $1.7 trillion in federal, state and local revenues, create thousands of jobs and greatly improve America's energy security.

We took to the streets to ask Americans nationwide about increasing access to offshore oil and natural gas resources. Watch the video below to see what they said, and visit the Action Center on access for more information and to let your voice be heard.