More Drilling, Please

There’s nothing like a steep increase in gasoline prices to test Americans’ fidelity to Mother Nature. We get a sense of this from a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll that asked whether drilling for oil and gas should be extended to “environmentally important areas” where it’s now prohibited.

Twenty-two percent of respondents said it should be banned due to the likelihood of environmental harm; 57 percent said it should be permitted “with proper controls in place”; and a not-so-green 13 percent said the nation’s energy needs are so urgent that drilling should be allowed “even if environmentally important areas may suffer damage as a result.” There was scarcely any gender gap in the responses. Usually, female respondents voice more earth-protective opinions in such surveys.

Responses to another of the poll’s questions help explain why a majority of those polled favor more drilling. Asked whether the recent rise in gas and oil prices has caused financial hardship in their own households, 70 percent said it has — including 29 percent citing “a great deal” of hardship. Thirty-five percent of women, vs. 20 percent of men, said they’ve suffered a great deal of hardship from these price increases.