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Will We Drive Less because of the BP Oil Spill?

Latest survey claims one in five Americans will.

by on May.06, 2010

What people say and what they actually do are sometimes two different things.

A national survey released today claims that more than one in five Americans plan to drive less because of the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Moreover, one in eight Americans plan to stop buying British Petroleum (BP) gas altogether.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • The combined impact of the oil spill and the recent mine disaster in West Virginia has caused more than two in every five Americans, or 41.7%, to think about the “human and environmental costs” associated with their own energy consumption.
  • About three in 10 Americans, 28%, said the spill has made them dislike BP, but their “opinion might improve if they can do more to clean up the mess and make amends.”
  • One in five, 20.5%, said they now doubt BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” slogan and believe it is not really a green company. However, 37.5% said it had not affected their opinion of the company in any way. And 17.4% said it makes them “respect the company for taking responsibility for the accident and clean-up.”
  • More than a third of Americans, or 35.5%, said the spill “was a terrible accident, but our country’s need for domestic oil makes the possibility of such accidents an acceptable risk.”
  • And 21% said, “It was a terrible accident waiting to happen, and offshore drilling in the Gulf should be halted.”

The survey polled 1,312 consumers across the country on Monday and Tuesday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.

“For years our research has shown America is a see-it-to-believe-it nation. Before we make changes, we need to see things with our own eyes or have a personal connection to something. If Americans start seeing a lot of oil-covered pelicans or dying dolphins, these numbers will likely go even higher,” said Suzanne Shelton, president of Shelton Group, which conducted the study.