What to Do about Oil?

Nearly 90% of BW Online readers think the U.S. has to use less foreign oil, and they're ready to be part of the conservation solution

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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