Poll: Most Americans fear vulnerability of oil supply
From Frank Sesno
Poll: three out of four Americans fear the supply of oil will not be able to keep up with global demand.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Although Americans don't believe the country faces an imminent energy crisis, most believe there are "major problems" --- from potential oil shortages to possible terrorist attacks -- and they are harshly critical of the leadership on the issue from the White House, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.
Despite President Bush's focus on energy in his State of the Union speech, in which he said America is "addicted to oil," those polled gave the president low marks on the issue.
Seventy-one percent said Bush is not doing enough to solve the nation's energy problems. Only 24 percent said Bush is doing enough.
And Americans believe there is plenty of blame to go around, with oil companies getting an even larger share of the blame than the White House.
Eighty-nine percent of those polled said oil companies deserve a great deal or some of the blame for current energy problems, compared to 81 percent who felt that way about Bush.
Nearly one in three said oil-producing countries deserve a great deal of the blame, while 27 percent put the blame on automobile companies. One in every four of those polled said American consumers bore the brunt of the blame.
The poll, which was released Wednesday afternoon, also indicates that roughly three out of four Americans -- 77 percent -- fear the supply of oil will not be able to keep up with global demand. Three in 10 said they believe the world will run short of oil within the next 25 years.
That perception is in conflict with forecasts from the Energy Information Agency, the official arm of the U.S. government that keeps energy statistics. The agency estimates that the oil supply will be able to meet the demand, which is expected to skyrocket by 40 percent in the next 20 years --- driven by rising U.S. consumption and booming economies in China and India.
The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 12 percent consider the current energy situation in the United States a crisis. At the same time, 49 percent said there are major problems in the industry --- citing the cost and availability of electricity, gas, natural gas and other forms of energy. Thirty-five percent said the industry has minor problems.
The poll also suggests that nearly three-quarters of Americans fear that terrorists will attempt a major attack on oil installations somewhere in the world within the next year.
The poll was conducted with 1,001 adults between Friday and Sunday. The questions about the current energy situation had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The question about Bush's handling of the issue and the others relating to who is to blame had sampling errors of plus or minus 4.5 percent.
The poll comes after top oil executives earlier this week appeared before Congress to defend their record profits and explain the consolidation that has taken place in the industry. The top five oil companies earned more than $100 billion last year.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., accused the oil companies of making America's energy problems worse.
"In his State of the Union address, we heard the president say that America is addicted to oil. If that's so, then these behemoth oil companies are some of our biggest dealers," Schumer said.
Shell Oil CEO John Hofmeister fired back, blaming Hurricane Katrina: "When supply is reduced and demand is not reduced, the consequence is higher prices. In a free market that's how it works."
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