Voters see link between energy and economy

WASHINGTON — Nine out of 10 voters believe increased domestic oil and gas production can help the economy, but not all of them want to see it happen offshore, a new survey shows.

The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Petroleum Institute, finds that 67 percent of voters endorse offshore drilling for domestic oil and natural gas resources — in line with the level of support documented by other surveys in 2012 and before the Deepwater Horizon disaster soured some on the idea.

In general, the API-commissioned poll found that voters appreciate the role that domestic oil and gas development plays in the economy and in funding the government. For instance, 84 percent of respondents said they agreed that producing more domestic oil and gas can benefit federal and state budgets and 89 percent said it would generally help the economy.

Eight-seven percent said they agreed that producing more domestic oil and gas could help lower consumers’ energy costs.

Erik Milito, API’s upstream director, said the survey shows Americans understand the link between energy and the economy.

“Americans get it: domestic oil and natural gas development is a key driver for new jobs, economic growth and energy security,” Milito said in a statement. “Our country is now firmly positioned as an energy superpower, and most Americans want our nation to seize opportunities to build upon that status.”

State-specific polls commissioned by API documented similar support for offshore oil and gas development in key coastal states: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.

The federal government has ruled out selling drilling leases in U.S. waters along the mid-Atlantic through June 30, 2017, including an area targeted for leasing off the Virginia coast.

But oil industry representatives who want to see that activity have started pressing the Interior Department to include possible Atlantic activity in the next five-year plan governing offshore lease sales from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2022.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is expected to kick off planning for the five-year drilling plan next year. It currently is weighing whether to allow new seismic surveys in the mid-Atlantic, which could shed new light on the geology of the region and the oil and gas that could be lurking deep underwater.