What's Your Energy IQ?
The release of the third Energy IQ survey, conducted for American Petroleum Institute (API) by Harris Interactive® in June 2009, comes as a new administration and Congress are pursuing energy and climate policies that will determine America’s economic competitiveness for years to come. In comparing the new results to surveys from previous years, Harris found that Americans are more aware of how current policies limit domestic oil and natural gas production, but they also continue to subscribe to common, yet critical, misperceptions about how the industry operates and the energy we’ll need in the future.
Among the survey’s key findings:
More Americans understand that U.S. energy demand will increase during the next 20 years, but they underestimate the vital role that fossil fuels will play in meeting demand.
- While the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that U.S. energy demand will increase 9 percent during the next 20 years, only 5 percent of respondents chose the correct answer. The majority overestimated this number, believing that U.S. demand would increase 16 to 21 percent.
- When asked what percent of global energy demand will be met by fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal, according to government projections, only 10 percent of respondents answered correctly that fossil fuels will meet 85 percent of energy demand. This is the second consecutive year this number has dropped even though the EIA figure for future U.S. reliance on fossil fuels has risen by five percent since 2008.
- Similarly, while the EIA projects that more than 55 percent of U.S. energy demand in 2030 will be met by oil and natural gas, only 16 percent of respondents chose this answer.
Those surveyed overestimate the amount of oil and natural gas supplied to the U.S. by the Persian Gulf countries and underestimate the amount that is supplied from North America.
- According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 12 percent of the oil consumed last year in the U.S. came from the Persian Gulf countries. Only 7 percent of respondents chose correctly, while more than 40 percent of respondents believed that over 30 percent of our oil supply came from the Persian Gulf.
- Fifty-three percent of respondents believed that Saudi Arabia was the largest U.S. supplier of imported crude oil. In fact, according to the DOE, Canada is the largest supplier of imported crude oil.
- Only 5 percent of respondents knew that more than 73 percent of oil and natural gas consumed in the U.S. was produced in North America. This is down 3 percent from last year’s survey. A surprising 42 percent were under the misconception that the answer was less than 35 percent.
People underestimate the contributions the industry makes to the U.S. economy through jobs and taxes, and overestimate the industry’s profits.
- Only 15 percent of respondents knew that six million Americans are employed directly or indirectly by the oil and natural gas industry.
- Only 9 percent of respondents knew that oil companies pay more than 40 percent in income taxes as a share of their income. The majority thought that it was less than 30 percent, with one-third of all respondents under the misconception that companies pay less than 15 percent in income taxes.
- Similarly, when asked how much the oil and natural gas industry paid in taxes over the past three years, a full one quarter of respondents believed that the U.S. oil and natural gas industry contributed less than $100 billion. 43 percent of respondents chose “not sure” and only 10 percent answered correctly - $242 billion, according to the EIA.
- More than 40 percent of respondents believed that the oil and natural gas industry earned more than 20 cents per every dollar of sales. In fact the industry earns just below 6 cents on every dollar.