With Gas At $3, Let’s Get Drilling!

People are always willing to pay lip service to environmentalism. They’re less keen on paying the money that environmentalist policies might cost them. For years, polls by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press have asked, “Right now, which one of the following do you think should be a more important priority for this country—protecting the environment or developing new sources of energy?” In 2002, energy edged the environment by 48 percent to 45 percent. As recently as this March, the gap remained fairly narrow: 49 percent for energy, 42 percent for the environment. In a post-Katrina poll, though, the pro-environment tally has fallen to 36 percent and the pro-energy vote has grown to 57 percent. The turnabout has been particularly sharp among adults under age 30. In the March 2005 survey, they favored the environment over energy development by 51 percent to 38 percent; now, they favor energy development over the environment by 58 percent to 38 percent. Along the same lines, liberal Democrats favored the environment over energy development by 58 percent to 35 percent in March but now are evenly divided, with 47 percent espousing each position. The chart indicates how some other demographic groups see the matter.