Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Straw That Broke Big Oil's Back?

It may be too much to hope for but a new Gallup poll claims Americans' priorities are shifting to environmental protection from energy security.

In March, a Gallup poll found Americans favouring the development of US energy supplies over environmental protection by a 50-43% margin. The latest poll shows environmental protection has trumped domestic energy production by 55-39%. What's particularly interesting is that Republican numbers remained unchanged with energy production favoured over environmental protection two to one in March and again in May. The big change came from Democrats who from 58/35% pro-environment to 73/23% pro-environment and independents who went from 51/43% pro-energy in March to to 58/34% pro-environment in May.

With the Republican base stuck on pro-energy and the Democratic base energized on pro-environment along with the independent sector shifting to pro-environment, this could be an enormous opportunity for the Dems in the mid-terms.

The question asked respondents which they favoured, environmental protection even at the risk of limiting US production of oil, gas and coal or development of US energy supplies even if the environment suffers to some extent.

Is "drill baby, drill" dead and gone? Probably not, at least not yet. It is hard to imagine the trend reversing so long as the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its prolonged environmental fallout remain the dominant story on America's airwaves. Once it recedes from the public's consciousness, however, that's anybody's guess. This could be a tipping point or it could just be a bout of indigestion for the fossil fuelers and you can assume that Big Oil and Big Coal are gearing up their publicity/manipulation machines to fight back. With hundreds of billions of dollars potentially at risk and a "bought and paid for" Congress, it's inconceivable they'll go down without a fight.

In any case it's an issue that seems custom made for the 2010 mid-term Congressional elections, one that might just break along party lines. Could this be America's first election fought on environmentalism?


LMA said...

"Could this be America's first election fought on environmentalism?

Boy if this sickening disaster doesn't change a few priorities, what will it take?

Meanwhile, north of the border, Harper is set on weakening our environmental assessment regulations. Hope the winds of change shift north in time to stop him.

Okie said...

According to this article, the amount of oil spilled in the Niger Delta each year equals that which has been spilled in the Gulf.

"In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta's network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico"

"If this Gulf accident had happened in Nigeria, neither the government nor the company would have paid much attention," said the writer Ben Ikari, a member of the Ogoni people. "This kind of spill happens all the time in the delta."

"The oil companies just ignore it. The lawmakers do not care and people must live with pollution daily. The situation is now worse than it was 30 years ago. Nothing is changing. When I see the efforts that are being made in the US I feel a great sense of sadness at the double standards. What they do in the US or in Europe is very different."

The Mound of Sound said...

LMA, with the Harper/Ignatieff dynamic prevailing in Ottawa, our best hope of an environmental reversal in Canada may rest with a Washington reformation. Sad but both Harper and Ignatieff are devout Fossil Fuelers.

Okie, I suspect the Nigeria comparison is a bit distorted. It's not protection of the public but preservation of profit that drives Big Oil to staunch these mistakes. After all, oil lost is money lost. What Nigeria teaches us is how little the oil industry will do to effect cleanup (out of their profits) when governments don't hold their boots on Big Oil's neck.

Okie said...

"Sad but both Harper and Ignatieff are devout Fossil Fuelers."

Which would provide for a relatively seamless transition once John Q has had enough of Harper. As Igg was simply appointed that gives rise to speculation. Certainly wouldn't be the first time Corporate entities played on both sides of the fence.