Survey Shows Texans More Concerned About Energy Crisis

Energy Researcher Gene L. Theodori

A recent Sam Houston State University survey of 1,228 Texans shows that residents of the state known for its oil and gas production and industry are more concerned about the energy crisis than the U. S. population as a whole.

Also, about half (48.7 percent) say that with a more environmentally-friendly oil and gas production approach by drilling companies, current governmental regulations should be relaxed. Three out of eight (38.6 percent) opposed that idea, with one in eight (12.7 percent) unsure.

These were findings by Gene L. Theodori, associate professor of sociology, who conducted his survey this spring. While citizens in three sections of the state were included in the survey, residents of Harris County, where much of the Texas oil industry is headquartered, were not.

"Almost four out of every five Texans are more likely to find the oil situation in the U. S. to be a very serious issue as opposed to less than half of the general U. S. population," said Theodori. "Reasons behind this may include the oil and gas industry being an intricate part of the Texas economy, as well as our less than average use of public transportation."

Counties surveyed include Colorado, Refugio, Aransas and Brazoria in what Theodori calls the coastal wetlands Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes Region; Nacogdoches, Trinity, Panola and Angelina in the hardwood forests Piney Woods Region; and El Paso, Reeves, Pecos and Brewster in the desert ecosystems Trans Pecos Region.

In further findings, all education levels believe the oil situation is a serious matter. Not surprisingly, the income level most concerned is the group with less than $10,000 per year income per household with seven out of eight (86 percent) of those responding saying it is serious.

Even in the income group of above $100,000, almost five out of six (82 percent) said the situation is serious.

Issues relating to the energy situation being discussed nationally include drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as possibly increasing drilling on the offshore continental shelf, in coastal wetlands, in desert ecosystems, in hardwood forests, on privately-owned lands, and on publicly-owned lands.

The publicly-owned lands include those managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the U. S. Forest Service and the National Parks Service.

About 7 out of 10 respondents said that even with more environmentally-friendly oil and gas drilling methods, current government regulations should not be eliminated. However, almost two out of three from the coastal wetlands and hardwood forests regions said they should be relaxed, with almost half (45 percent) of those in the desert ecosystem agreeing.

"The idea that people will be more averse to changes or removal in regulations in their own ecosystems is marginally supported by the survey," said Theodori. "For each group their support for strengthening regulations is highest in their own ecosystem."

In general and in line with the national tendency of Democrats to be more environmentally-active, the survey showed less support for relaxing regulations among Texas Democrats than Republicans.

The survey also asked for respondents to indicate their favored solutions to reduce reliance on foreign oil.

The most favored solutions include:

Possible solutions which were not favored included:

"The lower percentage of approval for items such as 'restrictions on driving' and 'gas rationing' by Texans, as opposed to national polls, could be explained by the culture of individuality and commodity found in Texas," said Theodori.


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SHSU Media Contacts: Frank Krystyniak
June 17, 2008
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