New Poll Shows Robust Support for Permanently Protecting Arctic, Atlantic from Drilling

Majority—Especially Millennials—Support Prioritizing Clean Energy, Ending New Leasing for Federal Fossil Fuel Development

WASHINGTON – Most Americans—especially millennials—would support a move by President Obama to permanently protect the Arctic and Atlantic oceans by barring future offshore leasing for oil and gas drilling, according to a new Hart Research poll commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters.

The public generally opposes expanding oil, gas, and coal development on public waters and lands, and supports protecting the Arctic and Atlantic coasts.  A solid majority would support preventing the expansion of new leases on all public lands and oceans.

“What we learned today is that a majority of Americans support permanently protecting the Arctic and Atlantic oceans from offshore drilling, and two in three Americans think we should keep fossil fuels in the ground to help address climate change,” said Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA). “This new data sends a clear message that Americans want their public lands to be used for public interest, not rented to the fossil fuel industry for more climate change-causing pollution. We must act now to end our nation’s addiction to fossil fuels and tackle climate change as the single biggest issue facing our generation and the next.” 

“Americans want the U.S. to stop using lands held in the public trust to pursue more dirty fuels of the past,” said Franz Matzner, director of the Beyond Oil program at NRDC. “They want to invest our public resources in clean energy sources that will benefit our health, our climate and future generations.”

“There is broad public support for stopping the expansion of dirty energy production on public lands and waters and accelerating our transition to clean energy,” said Alex Taurel, deputy legislative director of the League of Conservation Voters. “In particular, a strong majority of Americans opposes Big Oil’s efforts to expand drilling to the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans and instead wants those oceans permanently protected from the risks of offshore drilling.”

89% of Americans have a favorable reaction to expanding development of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, by far the most broadly and deeply popular energy development proposal measured in the survey.

“Americans are sending a clear message in this survey,” said Jay Campbell, senior vice president of Hart Research Associates, “Namely, that their priorities are protection of our country’s public lands and development of clean, renewable energy.  Their concerns about fossil fuels are significant, and so they want to see dirty fuels kept in the ground.”

Representative Huffman, Matzner,  Taurel and Campbell spoke at a telephone press conference today unveiling the poll findings, which surveyed 1,103 registered voters over landlines and cell phones  from September 21 through 25, 2016, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. NRDC and LCV commissioned the poll conducted by Hart Research Associates.

Among highlights from the survey:

  • 59% would support permanently protecting the Arctic and Atlantic, including 84% of Democrats and 63% of Independents; 
  • 55% said the U.S. should stop expanding oil, coal and gas on federal lands, including 80% of Democrats and 61% of Independents;
  • 89% support expanding the development of renewable energy sources;
  • Two in three Americans say we should keep fossil fuels in the ground to help address climate change;
  • 64% of millennials support stopping the expansion of federal leasing on public lands and waters; and,
  • 67% of millennials support permanently protecting the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

For detailed findings from the survey, click here:

For a blog about the polling results by NRDC’s Franz Matzner, click here:


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

The League of Conservation Voters works to turn environmental values into national, state and local priorities. LCV, in collaboration with our state LCV partners, advocates for sound environmental laws and policies, holds elected officials accountable for their votes and actions, and elects pro-environment candidates who will champion our priority issues.  Visit us at, and follow us on Twitter @LCVoters.

Hart Research Associates is one of the leading research firms in the United States and has been at the cutting edge of measuring public opinion since our founding in 1971. During that time, we have conducted more than 8,000 public opinion surveys and 7,500 focus groups and in-depth interviews, talking with more than five million individuals across the United States and beyond. In addition to conducting research among everyday Americans, voters, and consumers, we routinely interview elite audiences. Our clients include organizations from virtually every major sector of society, including candidates for public office and political parties, labor unions, the nonprofit and policy advocacy sector, business, health and medicine, technology, journalism, law, education, the arts, and major agencies of the federal government.  Visit Hart at and follow us on Twitter @Hartsurveys.


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