Americans tired of volatile gas prices, want more renewable fuel

By Fuels America | June 26, 2013

With summer driving season here, a new public opinion poll gauges the consumer impacts of constantly fluctuating gas prices and reveals what Americans think is the solution: renewable fuel. The survey, conducted by Research Now and commissioned by Fuels America, identifies specific budget items families give up when they are faced with high gas prices, and their attitudes around oil, renewable fuel and the impacts both have on the economy and our environment.

Overwhelmingly, Americans think the nation should be using more renewable fuel (80 percent) and support the one policy, the renewable fuel standard (RFS), which is making that happen (73 percent).

What volatile gas prices mean for consumers:

Four of the top five things that consumers give up when faced with high gas prices are social or family related activities, serving to highlight the difficult choices that American’s face as a result of high and volatile oil prices:

- 55 percent said that if gas prices go up, they would likely to take fewer road trips to visit friends and family

- 27 precent responded they would enjoy fewer meals out at restaurants

- 17 percent would cut back on clothes shopping

- 12 percent would spend less on gifts for birthdays and holidays

The new normal: unpredictable gas prices, brought to you by the oil industry

As consumers make tough choices that they did not have to years ago, it is also clear who is at fault: 59 percent of Americans blame the oil industry for high gas prices.

Americans want less oil and more renewable fuel

Four in five respondents said they want the nation to be using more renewable fuel. This trend extends to personal choices and options: three in four said they want more renewable fuel options at gas stations.

“Oil companies will do anything to keep competition from cutting into their profits,” said Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Ethanol Council. “That’s why they’ve launched an all-out assault on homegrown oil-alternatives like renewable fuel. Consumers aren’t being fooled, however. They know oil companies are to blame for high gas prices and are demanding choices at the pump.”

Renewable fuel and the environment

The poll looked at self-identifying environmentalists and their opinions of these issues as well. Overall, environmentalists were even more critical of oil and supportive of renewable fuel than respondents at-large:

- 90 percent of environmentalists believe the country should be using more renewable fuel

- 89 percent of environmentalists believe replacing oil with renewable fuel would benefit the environment

- 67 percent of environmentalists believe the oil industry is to blame for high bas prices compared to 59 percent of the nation

- 82 percent of environmentalists support the RFS compared to 73 percent of the nation

- 86 percent of environmentalists want more renewable fuel options at the gas station

“From the economic damages of extreme weather fueled by climate change to the high costs of water and air pollution when petroleum is spilled or burned, we are paying the price every day for our reliance on oil. Alternatives like renewable fuel offer consumers a choice, bringing down prices for individual and businesses and ensuring all of us a cleaner, more sustainable future,” said Dennis V. McGinn, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy and retired U.S. Navy vice admiral.  

Renewable fuel and national security

The poll delved into national security issues, showing that 69 percent of Americans believe replacing oil imports with renewable fuel production is “critical” to national security.

The poll also identified respondents who live in military households, the majority of whom were supportive of renewable fuel in general: 

- 84 percent of military households have a favorable opinion of renewable fuel compared to 80 percent respondents nationwide

- 63 percent of respondents currently serving or have previously served in the military blame oil companies for high gas prices compared to 59 percent of the nation overall

“With 93 percent of the U.S. transportation sector dependent on oil, America is woefully susceptible to global price spikes and international security threats,” said Andrew Holland, senior fellow at the American Security Project. “Even if we produced all our oil here at home, in a global market the price is still set by the latest unrest in the Persian Gulf. We should instead encourage competitions in how we fuel our nation. Biofuels can ensure a steady supply of clean, domestically-produced renewable fuel as an alternative to oil. This is key to keeping Americans safe and prosperous in the 21st Century.”

Bi-partisan support for renewable fuel and the RFS

While there is a heated debate in Washington over the RFS, liberals (83 percent), moderates (76 percent), and conservatives (60 percent) all support the RFS.  

A plurality of conservatives (40 percent) blame oil companies for gas prices of $3 or more. Seventy-six percent of liberals blamed oil companies for high gas prices along with nearly two in three moderates (64 percent).

“Republicans and Democrats alike can agree that low energy prices and domestic jobs are good for America,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. “It’s clear that folks of every political stripe support the renewable fuel industry for the 365,000 jobs it provides and the $1,200 it saves American households on their gas bill every year. Growing sustainable, domestic fuel that brings down gas prices is a win-win-win.”

Overall support for renewable fuel

The poll’s findings demonstrate that the vast majority of Americans are seriously impacted by high gas prices, blame oil companies for that situation, and support renewable fuel and the only policy supporting the growth of renewable fuel in the U.S. – the RFS.

This support stays strong among many key demographics, including environmentalists and military families, and across the aisle.


The survey was conducted on behalf of the Fuels America via an online panel by Research Now, an independent research company. Interviews were conducted between June 7 and June 12, 2013. The sample was a representative audience of 1,000 adults (18+) nationwide yielding a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.