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Poll shows energy cost acceptable

In six Western states, a majority of likely voters are willing to pay higher prices for energy from clean renewable resources such as wind and solar rather than continue to rely on oil, natural gas and coal for power, an independent regional poll has found.

In all, 64 percent of the 2,400 respondents said they would be willing to pay more for clean energy, and 28 percent said they would be reluctant to do so. Eight percent weren’t sure. In Nevada, 69 percent said they would be willing, while 25 percent said they would not be, with 6 percent unsure.

On a related issue, 69 percent of those polled in the Western region said they support drilling for oil and gas on public lands, and 47 percent favor drilling over protecting public lands from environmental damage, including half of the Nevada respondents.

"It’s about becoming energy independent," said Brad Coker, managing partner of the firm that conducted the poll.

"Most people understand that we don’t have enough oil to be independent so we need other sources to help," he said. "People just want more energy that is domestically produced."

The poll, taken by telephone Aug. 13-15, was commissioned jointly by the Review-Journal, the Denver Post and the Salt Lake Tribune, and conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based polling firm. The margin of error for results of the poll of likely voters in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, is plus or minus 2 percentage points. Nevada specific results carry a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Coker said the respondents’ views appear to be driven by the energy crisis and the impact on the economy of the nation’s $700 billion-per-year addiction to foreign oil.

"When the price of gas hit $4 per gallon, people woke up and said, ‘Something’s got to give,’" he said Thursday.

"The more immediate pressing concern is that we have plenty of energy so the price of gas doesn’t double in six months. This is a let’s-do-everything approach," Coker said.

"The big picture is people want everything done that can be done to make energy more affordable and available," he said.

That mind-set was reflected in respondents’ answers to the question: Do you feel the moratorium on oil shale development should be lifted to provide a new source of energy, or kept in effect to protect the environment?

A clear majority, 58 percent, favored lifting the moratorium while 28 percent said they want it kept in place. Fourteen percent weren’t sure.

In Nevada, respondents aligned themselves with the regional average with 58 percent in favor of lifting the moratorium on oil shale development.

The poll was conducted a week before the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.

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