The general public is clearly fed up with high fuel prices: nine out of 10 Americans in an Opinion Research Corporation poll for 40mpg.org believe that oil companies are gouging gasoline consumers, and four out of five (including 76 percent of Republicans) would support a windfall profits tax specifically to fund alternative energy research. E conducted its own decidedly non-scientific street interviews to gauge public opinion:
Paul Scarborough: design consultant
We have our heads in the sand. Demand for oil is growing in countries like China and India, and this will deplete our oil resources. To conserve oil on a day-to-day basis, I walk to work and use public transport for long-distance commutes.
Monique Govil: food store owner
There’s no real oil crisis: It’s a matter of supply and demand, which is artificially manipulated. Oil companies make us believe that there’s an oil shortage but their aim is to increase the oil price. The situation is worse than in the 1970s.
James O"Leary: police department
The problem is that they’re just not building enough refineries. There’s lots of oil in Alaska and Canada, and we should be exploring for oil where it exists: Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). They’re talking about drilling in such a small area [points to two bricks, then indicates the whole sidewalk]. Right now we are totally dependent on OPEC.
Richard Erlanger: folk art vendor
Oil is a finite resource and the Earth is definitely running out of it. But we’re being manipulated by oil companies who shut down refineries and end up charging us more. But I’m a key offender, because I drive a van which gives me 20 miles a gallon. And since I’m handicapped, public transport is not good for me. I would buy a hybrid if I could.