2008 record      


With the price of gas up 39 cents at the pump in a month and heading higher amid turmoil in much of the Middle East, Americans wonder why the U.S. isn't doing more to exploit its own oil resources.


They favor drilling in territorial waters, 67%-29%, according to a new IBD/TIPP poll. That is up from 61%-30% from last May and 64%-25% when Republicans touted drilling in the 2008 election as oil topped $147 a barrel.

There's also been a solid shift toward drilling in Alaska's Arc tic National Wildlife Refuge, with support at 54%-40%. That's up from 49%-43% last year.

A solid 65%-21% favor tapping federal shale reserves in states like Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, off just slightly from May.

"Americans understand we rely heavily on oil imported from the Middle East and the recent events cause concern and uncertainties in their minds," said Raghavan Mayur, president of Technometrica Market Intelli gence, which conducted the poll.

The average national price for regular unleaded is $3.51 according to AAA. That's up from $3.12 last month and $2.70 last year. Oil closed above $105 Monday.

The poll found 57% expect prices to rise to $4-$5 in the next three months. Another 24% expect it to soar past $5 a gallon.

People aren't likely to grin and bear it either. Some 67% expect gas prices to hurt them financially, with 44% strongly agreeing.

As elsewhere, drilling reveals a partisan divide. While Republicans strongly back offshore and ANWR drilling, independents are also supportive to a lesser extent. Democrats marginally back offshore activity and strongly oppose ANWR drilling.

The White House clamped down on domestic exploration in the wake of the BP (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Green groups assumed that the incident brought an end to the drilling debate. But reports of less-severe environmental damage, along with energy industry job losses and rising oil prices, may have changed that.

Nevertheless, new exploration has virtually halted. A Gulf drilling moratorium officially ended in October, but the industry has accused the administration of slow-walking the permit process.

Last week the Interior Department appealed a district judge's order that it act on several pending deep-water permits. That came after the administration issued its first permit since the spill — to a well co-owned by BP.

The administration had hoped that the Gulf spill would lead to more interest in green power, but GM (GM) has sold just 602 Chevy Volts hybrids so far in 2011 despite hefty subsidies and hype.

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