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New Poll Shows Americans Oppose Arctic Refuge Drilling


December 22, 2004

A new national poll released Tuesday finds that a majority of Americans from all walks of life oppose allowing oil companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The poll, conducted by Zogby International for The Wilderness Society and other leading national conservation groups, found that 55 percent of Americans oppose drilling, while only 38 percent want to allow drilling in the Refuge. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been off limits to drilling and other industrial development since it was set aside by President Eisenhower.

This new Zogby poll shows that Americans' opposition is even stronger, 59% - 25%, to a proposed "backdoor maneuver" that would use the annual Congressional budget process to let the oil industry into the Refuge. Nearly two out of three Independent voters (65%) say it is a back door maneuver. Even Republicans (by a 41% - 37% margin) and Bush voters (43% - 38%) say that drilling in the Refuge should not be included as part of the budget bill.

Conservation groups pointed to the new poll results as evidence of continued political support for protecting the Arctic Refuge, and reaffirmed their commitment to fight the drilling proposal at every turn.

"These poll results show that the American people still aren't buying the drillers' line," said Melinda Pierce, who directs the Sierra Club's Arctic protection campaign. "They know that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would ruin one of America's last unspoiled wild places for what the U.S. Geological Survey and oil company executives concede is only a few months' worth of oil that would not be available for a decade."

"Congress should take notice of these numbers," said Jim Waltman, Director of Refuges and Wildlife Programs at The Wilderness Society. "Members of Congress need to ask themselves, 'Whose side am I on? Am I on the side of the oil companies? Or do I side with the majority of Americans who want the Arctic Refuge protected?'"

According to Zogby poll results, eight out of ten voters say that conservation, more fuel-efficient cars, and development of renewable energy sources are preferable to drilling on public lands as a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil. By contrast, only one in six voters (17%) say that drilling for more oil and gas in the U.S., including areas within wildlife refuges and other public lands, is the best way to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Instead, the vast majority of voters are evenly divided between " conserving more, wasting less, and developing more fuel-efficient cars so we use less oil and gas" (41%) and "relying less on oil and gas and expanding development of alternative forms of energy like wind, solar, and ethanol"(39%).

"Ultimately, the battle over the Arctic Refuge says a lot about what sort of nation we are going to be," said Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. "Are we a country that squanders its natural resources for short-term profit? Or are we a nation that stewards those resources, carefully conserving the most valuable natural and economic assets to ensure we will have them for future generations?"

"Protecting the Refuge has been a priority for Republicans and Democrats alike since President Eisenhower set it aside 45 years ago," said Cindy Shogan, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League. "We have every confidence that a bipartisan coalition will once again protect the Arctic Refuge in the upcoming Congress, backed by millions of Americans who understand that drilling there is the wrong choice."

Zogby International conducted interviews of 1,203 likely voters chosen at random nationwide for The Wilderness Society and other leading national conservation groups. All calls were made from Zogby International headquarters in Utica, N.Y., from December 13-15, 2004. The margin of error is +/- 2.9 percentage points. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, and gender to more accurately reflect the voting population. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Numbers have been rounded to the nearest percent and might not total 100.

According to Arctic Power, a grassroots, non-profit citizen's organization with 10,000 members founded in April of 1992, more than 75% of Alaskans favor exploration and production in ANWR and the Inupiat Eskimos who live in and near ANWR support onshore oil development on the Coastal Plain. The Arctic Power organization was formed to expedite congressional and presidential approval of oil exploration and production within the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The volumes of oil assessed oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is 7.7 billion barrels, according to the United States Geological Society (USGS).

On the Web:

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Arctic Power)

Top 10 Reasons to Support Development in ANWR Weblog

In the News:


Sources of Poll News:

Zogby International
Web Site

Wilderness Society
National Wildlife Federation
Alaska Wilderness League
Sierra Club
Defenders of Wildlife


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