Who Wants To Export Natural Gas?

My last post highlighted how over six months, support for exporting natural gas has increased as opposition decreased. Thirty-four percent of Americans agreed with the statement, “The U.S. should permit the export of natural gas to other countries,” while 30 percent disagreed and 36 percent were neutral. My guess is that most of the country is still not likely paying much attention.

Now let’s dig deeper. The data collected is weighted to reflect U.S. census demographics so we can find out more about how opinion varies across the nation. Here’s a look at those who agreed that we should export natural gas broken down by gender, income, and party affiliation:

Source: UT Energy Poll September 2013. Base: 2,144 All results based on weighted data. Methodology here.

The first thing I notice is that support for exporting natural gas looks a lot like the data across broad energy issues. Women tend to be less engaged than men. High earners are more likely to follow energy topics closely compared to those earning less. And as a group, Libertarians are more likely to be watching energy issues than those from other political parties.

Right now it appears that the Americans who are most focused on energy topics are also more likely to support exporting natural gas. Still, it’s important to note that this data was collected prior to the current situation in Ukraine. The latest poll results from March 2014 will be available in a few weeks, so we’ll be able explore new data on public sentiment regarding natural gas–and many other critical energy topics–very soon!

Should the U.S. Export Natural Gas?

The United States has a lot of natural gas (I’ve already outlined why here). In fact, natural gas will likely overtake petroleum as the leading fuel source in our energy mix in the next decade or two. Given the current situation in Ukraine, many are wondering whether we should export some as a kind of geopolitical move against Russia.

It’s possible, but should we?

It wouldn’t exactly be easy… Even if permits were issued immediately, it would still take A LOT of money and many years of construction to get going. On top of that European countries would also need to create the infrastructure to receive our exports.

Here’s a look at where Americans are on exporting natural gas from the previous two waves of the UT Energy Poll:

[Note: New Spring 2014 data will be available April 30]

More are now in favor of exporting natural gas to other countries compared to last year, while there’s far less opposition. Still, it’s worth noting that the majority of Americans still don’t even know what fracking is and think we get most of our foreign oil from Saudi Arabia.

If we’re going consider some significant changes in foreign policy and energy strategy, I hope we get more of the country up to speed on what it would mean.

[Update: A deeper dive of the data].