Survey says Coloradans are fed up with oil companies, want more renewables

Coloradans blame market speculation and oil companies for high gas prices, and the vast majority say the best way to bring prices down is to crackdown on market manipulation, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The Checks and Balances Project commissioned Colorado pollster Chris Keating to conduct research that shows that 79 percent of Coloradans favor a crackdown on oil price speculation and market manipulation to reduce gas prices. The survey showed 77 percent of Colorado voters think reducing oil consumption through efficiency would also be an effective way to reduce prices.

“Coloradans are tired of paying for their gas twice: once at the pump and again through their taxes,” said Matt Garrington, deputy director of the Checks and Balances Project. “It’s clear car and truck drivers in this state want solutions to this problem now, including a crackdown on market manipulation, a balanced approach to energy development and an end to taxpayer handouts for oil companies.”

Garrington told The Colorado Independent that the surveyors asked open ended questions along the lines of “Why do you think oil prices are so high? and What could be done to bring prices down?”

“We didn’t lay out policy options to choose from. We just asked people what they thought,” he said.

According to Garrington, Coloradans strongly favor ending taxpayer subsidies for oil companies. Seventy-two percent of Coloradans say ending oil company subsidies and transferring those subsidies to companies that are developing wind and solar power would be an effective strategy for the nation.

Garrington pointed to a ThinkProgress study that shows how market manipulation affects the price of oil. The study shows that while the effect of speculation varies, it can increase the price of oil substantially.

“It’s time for oil and gas companies to stand on their own two feet,” said Garrington. “Coloradans understand that we simply can’t afford to pay billions in taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil. It is simply immoral to continue the Big Oil gravy train when Americans have been asked to sacrifice billions in cuts to Medicare.”

To reduce gas prices, he said seven of 10 Coloradans favor diversification of the sources of energy by creating a national renewable electricity standard that requires 20 percent of electricity to come from sources like solar, wind and geothermal power.

The live telephone poll conducted May 24-26, 2011 by Keating Research, Inc. as an internal messaging survey. It was released to the public on the eve of the Americans for Prosperity “Running on Empty” Colorado tour stops that promote increased oil drilling. The Checks and Balances Project criticized the group as a front for Big Oil and noted that billionaire oil refinery tycoons David and Charles Koch fund the organization.

“The Americans for Prosperity tour is running on empty ideas. Instead of investing our energy dollars into drilling deeper and putting Colorado land and water at risk, we need to build cars that can go further on a gallon of gasoline and to tap into the clean energy of the wind and sun – energy sources we have right here in Colorado that never run out,” said Garrington.

Results of the survey were based on 603 interviews with registered Colorado voters statewide. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Responding to additional questions by email, Garrington said this about why the poll was conducted and why it is being released now, several months after the polling was completed.

“Checks and Balances was interested in learning where the public was at on gas prices and subsidies in the context of the larger political debate happening in Washington. We chose to release the poll in response to the Americans for Prosperity tour, which is backed by Big Oil and the Koch Brothers. AFP is using gas prices to try and take political advantage of the American public and leverage more handouts for Big Oil – this time in the form of our public lands, drinking water, and air quality.”