Foreign oil dependenceannoys public

The majority of Americans questioned by a recent survey are unhappy with the US energy dependence on foreign oil, according to a report from Public Agenda.

Of the people surveyed, more than half, 54%, give the nation grades of D or F.

Public Agenda provides research into the public's thinking on domestic and international issues. It was co-founded by the late Cyrus Vance, President Carter's Secretary of State, and Daniel Yankelovich, a social scientist and author.

"We're embarking on a new debate about energy in this country, and the public is entering it in a deeply dissatisfied frame of mind," said Scott Bittle. Bittle is Public Agenda executive vice-president, lead author of the report, a journalist, and former editorial development manager/Internet for Reed Travel Group.

According to the Public Agenda information, failing grades are almost as high for keeping energy costs affordable and developing alternative energy sources. Grades are somewhat better on climate change.

"One explanation for the somewhat better grades on climate change is that global warming is a lesser concern for the public compared with energy independence and the price of fuel," the report stated. "While overwhelming majorities worry about prices (89%), oil dependence (83%) and global warming (71%), the intensity of their concern is much different. Almost 6 in 10 (57%) worry 'a lot' about price, while only 32% say they worry 'a lot' about global warming."

The data indicated that half of the participants surveyed couldn't identify a renewable energy source, nearly 4 in 10 could not name a fossil fuel, two-thirds overestimate US dependence on Middle Eastern oil, overestimate how much of the world's oil reserves are in the US, and they're divided on whether drilling offshore and in Alaska would make the US energy independent.

Full results of the report are available at public agenda.org and at planetforward.org.

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