Survey respondents favor balance in energy policy goals

Sept. 24, 2012
Believe it or not, support exists in the US for an energy policy that balances core objectives.

Believe it or not, support exists in the US for an energy policy that balances core objectives.

From "drill, baby, drill" to "break the oil addiction," the sound bites of energy politics are too frequently one-dimensional and polarizing. In learned circles, though, balance is not only possible but preferable, according to a survey by Sandia National Laboratories and

Late last year, the groups asked 884 energy professionals to allocate priorities of policy-making in three areas. The allocations could sum to as much as 100. Respondents could assign given areas no value and identify other areas worthy of policy attention.

The average allocations in the given policy areas: energy supply security 37%, economics and job creation 32%, and environment and climate 31%.

Sandia said the higher mean allocation for security over either of the other options was statistically significant. The difference between the economic and environmental allocations was not. "While security was, on average, valued more highly among survey respondents," Sandia said, "the distribution of results suggests that most respondents' allocations expressed a clear preference for policy-making that pursues all three goals. By far, the most common response suggested a ‘portfolio approach' to energy policy." Only 3% of respondents expressed preferences for allocation of 100 to one goal: 1.6% for the environment, 0.8% for security, and 0.7% for economics. At the other extreme, economics and environment each received a zero allocation from 5% of respondents, and security drew the goose egg from 4%. "Many of these respondents included comments which indicate beliefs that, given sufficient attention to one or two goals, the others will also be achieved," Sandia said.

And 58% of the respondents indicated that security, economics and the environment constitute a sufficient list of energy-policy goals. The survey differed from many others by not asking respondents to pick a policy option at the exclusion of others. Evident in the results is recognition that target values can differ without conflicting. In US energy politics, that assumption is regrettably rare.

About the Author

Bob Tippee | Editor

Bob Tippee has been chief editor of Oil & Gas Journal since January 1999 and a member of the Journal staff since October 1977. Before joining the magazine, he worked as a reporter at the Tulsa World and served for four years as an officer in the US Air Force. A native of St. Louis, he holds a degree in journalism from the University of Tulsa.