A strong majority of Americans prefer developing more alternative fuels over expanding fossil fuel production, according to a new study.
The Pew Research Center found that 65 percent of Americans prefer developing more alternative fuels, while only 27 percent want to expand fossil fuels. The level of support for alternative fuels is the highest since December 2014, when 60 percent were in favor of them.
But when divided up by political ideology, there appears to be a difference in opinion. Among Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, the choice is clear with 81 percent prefering alternative fuels. But among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, there's a sharp divide with 45 percent preferring alternative fuels and 44 percent wanting to stick with fossil fuels.
The high level of support comes at a time when President Donald Trump is expected to make major changes to the United States government's energy policy.
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PBS pointed out that under former President Barack Obama, award-winning physicists like Stephen Chu and Ernest Moniz led the Department of Energy, and vocal environmentalist Sally Jewell headed the Department of the Interior.
But Trump has indicated he's taking a different path by appointing former Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas to lead the the Department of Energy and Attorney General of Oklahoma Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA.
Pruitt has been skeptical of the degree in which human activity affects climate change.
“I believe the ability to measure, with precision, the degree of human activity’s impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or whether human activity contributes to it,” Pruitt told the Senate confirmation committee, according to The Washington Post.
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And although 97 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is caused by human activity, according to NASA, Pruitt wrote in the National Review that the “debate is far from settled.”
“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress,” Pruitt wrote. “It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”