The driver holds a fuel injector at a gas station in Sacramento, California, USA, on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

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Russia’s attack on Ukraine has raised gas prices to almost record levels, reflecting Western sanctions against the world’s third-largest oil producer.

Meanwhile, Antarctica has just melted off the shelf ice, and the Great Barrier Reef is suffering from massive bleaching caused by record temperatures.

These are some of the key issues at the heart of the U.S. energy debate. And when asked to choose between priorities for domestic oil, gas and coal supplies or environmental protection, Americans are sharply divided on political considerations, according to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday

Republicans with a preference of more than four to one will prefer the development of energy supplies to the United States over the environment. Democrats are on the opposite side by the same margin.

The survey surveyed 1,017 adults between March 1 and 18. Respondents lived in all 50 states and Washington.

When the survey was conducted, gas prices across the country were above $ 4 a gallon. Pump prices jumped after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February shocked world energy markets.

“Concerns about energy have grown significantly last year, and that’s probably due to rising gas prices, as we’ve seen in the past,” said CNBC’s Jeff Jones, Gallup’s senior editor who authored the report.

About 47% of respondents in the survey are “very worried” about the availability and affordability of energy, compared to 37% a year ago and 22% in 2020. Another 30% of Americans said they were “worried enough” about affordability and affordability.

The poll found that a combined 77% of Americans are concerned about prices.

At the same time, the need for a rapid and abrupt transition from fossil fuels is becoming more apparent every day.

In March, a shelf glacier collapsed in East Antarctica, which is considered a stable part of the continent. And the massive bleaching that takes place on the Great Barrier Reef makes corals more vulnerable to hunger and disease.

The season of hurricanes and fires in the United States remains only a few months, and the damage caused by cataclysms continues to worsen. Last year was the third most active season of hurricanes in the Atlantic, while an unprecedented wave of heat swept through much of the northwestern Pacific.

“Coal and other fossil fuels are stifling humanity,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in late February, when the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was published.

In general, Americans are divided when it comes to environmental protection (50%) or energy production (46%). The gap narrowed amid rising gas prices.

“People tend to prefer the environment and still do, but they adjust that preference based on the prevailing energy situation,” Jones said.

The split is clearly broken along the guerrilla line.

Among Republicans, 78% say they prefer energy production, compared to only 17% of Democrats. These figures are the opposite when it comes to protecting the environment, which is preferred by 78% of Democrats and 17% of Republicans.

“Their top priorities remain the same,” Jones said. “Republicans for Energy and Democrats for the Environment.”

Recently, the Biden administration has been trying to go the middle way by increasing oil production in the short term and focusing on clean energy in the future.

“We take decarbonisation seriously providing reliable energy that is independent of foreign adversaries, “Energy Secretary Jennifer Grenholm told energy executives in Houston earlier this month.” That means we will walk and chew gum at the same time. ”

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