What to Do about Oil?


The U.S. is too dependent on imported oil, and readers of BusinessWeek Online are willing to help solve that problem by encouraging conservation -- or conserving themselves. Those are the main findings of our Feb. 14 Reader Survey.

Some 89% of the 900-plus readers who responded feel that it's either very important or somewhat important to cut imports of oil below the current 55%.

Readers were divided on who's most responsible for the country's continued dependence on foreign oil, with 38% citing the government for not pushing hard enough for conservation, about 24% blaming the free-market system for providing energy that's too cheap, and 19% putting the onus on consumers for being energy wastrels.

However, they reached a consensus on the solutions. Some 83% think increased energy conservation is absolutely essential, 85% say they would be willing to adjust their lifestyles to conserve energy, and 91% would be willing to buy products that are more energy-efficient. Moreover, 86% said they would be likely to conserve more conscientiously if they had to pay significantly more for energy.

Here are the detailed results, which as always are unscientific, since anyone who wished to could participate:

The U.S. now imports 55% of its oil. How important do you think it is to lessen that percentage?

Option

Total

%

Very important

705

75.56 %

Somewhat important

131

14.04 %

Somewhat unimportant

33

3.54 %

Not important

56

6.00 %

Not sure

8

0.86 %

Who do you think is primarily responsible for perpetuating the country's dependence on imported oil?

Option

Total

%

The government, by not pushing hard enough for conservation

348

37.79 %

Consumers, for wasting too much energy

177

19.22 %

Big U.S. companies, for wasting energy and making products that use energy inefficiently

135

14.66 %

The free market, for providing energy so cheaply that no one has an incentive to conserve

217

23.56 %

Not sure

44

4.78 %

Do you think that increased energy conservation is:

Option

Total

%

Absolutely essential

772

82.83 %

Nice, but not essential

110

11.8 %

Not very essential at all

20

2.15 %

Pointless

25

2.68 %

Not sure

5

0.54 %

Would you be willing to adjust your lifestyle to help conserve energy?

Option

Total

%

Yes

792

85.25 %

No

92

9.90 %

Not sure

45

4.84 %

Would you be willing to buy energy-efficient products so the U.S. could import less oil?

Option

Total

%

Yes

853

91.43 %

No

44

4.72 %

Not sure

36

3.86 %

If you had to pay significantly more for energy (gasoline, electricity, fuels for heating and cooling). would you be likely to conserve?

Option

Total

%

Yes

801

85.94 %

No

81

8.69 %

Not sure

50

5.36 %


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