Brunswick Group survey examines what Americans think about federal aid for oil & gas companies
With the global oil industry experiencing “a shock like no other” in history, Brunswick Group recently surveyed Americans to understand:
- What does the general public think of some of the policy proposals being discussed in Washington to help the U.S. oil & gas industry?
- What actions could U.S. oil & gas producers take to make the public more supportive of federal aid for their industry?
Here is what we learned when we conducted an online survey of 1,000 U.S. adults March 27-29, 2020
- Having the federal government buy oil from U.S. producers is much more popular than banning foreign imports. Fewer than two in ten Americans surveyed think the U.S. government should ban imports of foreign oil to prop up prices in the U.S. Americans are much more receptive to having the federal government buy oil from U.S. producers (38%) – as the Trump administration has proposed – or do nothing at all for the industry (36%), than banning foreign oil imports (19%). Roughly a quarter favor reducing royalties that oil & gas producers have to pay the federal government to drill on federal land. Seventeen percent say they support easing enforcement of environmental regulations affecting the industry.
- Republicans are more supportive of financial assistance for the industry than Democrats. Sixty-two percent of Republicans surveyed said they support some form of federal aid for the industry. However, a near majority of Democrats (48%) said they also support some form of federal assistance. And solid majorities of Republicans (76%), Independents (62%) and Democrats (64%) said they think the industry has positive impact on the U.S. economy.
- The public is more likely to support federal aid for the industry when strings are attached. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they’d be more likely to support federal aid to the oil & gas industry in exchange for companies committing to do more to reduce pollution from their operations.
What do these findings mean for oil & gas companies? Here are our takeaways:
- Calls for banning foreign oil imports don’t reflect a popular groundswell of opinion against foreign oil-producing countries. Even amongst Texas respondents – whose state is going to be among the hardest hit by the price collapse - only two in 10 favor banning foreign imports. Voters generally seem more supportive of helping U.S. producers than harming their foreign competitors.
- Opening the federal purse will require the industry to engage in dealmaking and compromise. Congress controls the government’s purse-strings. That gives House Democrats leverage over proposals that require federal spending – such as President Trump’s request for money to buy oil from U.S. producers and put it in the nation’s emergency oil stockpile. To win bipartisan support for such measures, the oil & gas industry and its allies may need to help Democrats on their own energy-policy goals, which include providing comparable emergency relief for the renewable energy sector.
Download the full report of the findings below: