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Gulf oil spill: Californians turn against offshore oil drilling, Times/USC poll finds

Half of California’s registered voters oppose new oil drilling off the state’s coast, according to a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll. marks a reversal from recent years, when voters increasingly favored new drilling amidst sharp rises in the cost of gasoline.

About 50% of those surveyed opposed new drilling, while 43% supported it, according to the poll, which was conducted May 19-26.

The latest figures mark a return to Californians’ traditional position on drilling in recent decades. In 2008 and 2009, as prices rose at the pump, 51% of voters supported new drilling.

Geography played a role in voters’ attitudes toward seeking new sources of oil offshore, with those who live closer to the state’s beaches being more likely to oppose it. About 53% of residents of coastal counties opposed new drilling while 52% of those who live inland supported it.

The polling took place amid national headlines concerning the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

The survey was conducted for The Times and the University of Southern California’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences by the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican firm American Viewpoint. The margin of error for the survey in which 1,506 registered voters were polled is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points for the overall sample and slightly larger for smaller breakdowns.

-- Seema Mehta

Track poll results all weekend

Saturday: Voter views on the race for governor and U.S. senate

Sunday: Voter views on Arizona's illegal immigration crackdown

Monday: Voter views on legalizing marijuana in California

Results from the poll, as well as graphics, videos and polling questions, will be posted on throughout Memorial Day weekend. You can also track the election at The Times' election guide and on The Times' California Politics blog.

Photo credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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This is the worst environmental disaster in US history.
It has turned fence sitters like myself into opponents of oil.
It's time for our country to abandon this destructive form of energy and seek other ways to power our country.

It's time to get serious about the fuel for the next 100 years.

For a country "addicted to oil" the only solution is to find a substitute for oil.

Right now there is only one choice at the pump - various grades of gasoline and diesel - all made from oil. We are slowly phasing in ethanol as an oxygenate that in CA constitutes about 1 gallon per fill up (6% blended into the gasoline).

We need to accelerate the introduction of higher blends, insist on new vehicles that are flex-fuel compatible (0-100% ethanol compatible with gasoline, and accelerate the production of low carbon fuels.

These are all policies that Brazil has mandated for years. The result: they have choices at the pump that include higher fuel blends from non-petroleum distillates.

We also have to have more good inclusive policies in Sacramento that will spur the deployment of promising technologies. Pass AB#222 which will enable municipalities to create alternative fuels from municipal solid wastes. Remove the highly specious indirect land use change factor in the low carbon fuel standard so we can access Midwestern ethanol to satisfy our billion gallon/year thirst for ethanol. Create incentives for growing more fermentable and cellulosic ethanol and drop-in fuels in California.

And stop sacrificing "good" alternatives to the "perfect" standards of environmental Luddites. They are unwittingly keeping us addicted to oil.

It is time we end our addiction to oil. We should be building solar and wind farms to provide renewable energy, as well as moving forward on electric and fuel-cell powered vehicles.


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