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More Americans Believe in Climate Change

by Elizabeth Alford on October 21, 2015

Partisan politics are shaping people’s views of key energy issues, including how many Americans now believe in climate change.

Related:  Most Americans Aren’t Familiar with Keystone

The University of Texas at Austin conducts a biannual energy survey, where respondents from across the country are polled about their awareness and thoughts on various energy topics. This is the fifth year that the University has conducted the poll and researchers have found sharp political divisions among Americans on prominent energy issues.

One of the biggest shifts highlighted in the latest poll is the public perception of climate change. The poll shows that 76% of Americans now believe that climate change is occurring, up from 68% just one year ago.

“Political ideology continues to be the single greatest determinant of Americans’ views on climate change,” said UT Energy Poll Director Sheril Kirshenbaum. “Party affiliation also colors perceptions of other controversial energy topics including efforts to reduce coal-fired power and levy a tax on carbon.”

The survey also revealed growing support for environmental protection in several areas, especially among Democrats. Other findings:

  • 58% describe gasoline prices as high, compared with 92% a year ago.
  • 48% are familiar with fracking and 43% of those support the practice compared to 44% percent last year. 58% say cities should be able to ban it within their borders even if state law otherwise permits it.
  • 38% favor exporting natural gas compared to 34% last year.

In May, the energy poll found that less than half of the 2000 people surveyed were even familiar with the Keystone XL Pipeline, the controversial pipeline that would carry millions of barrels of crude from Canada to Texas.

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