Cliff May

And 73 percent want Congress to create an “Open Fuels Standard” -- to require that all cars sold in the U.S. be “Flexible Fuel Vehicles,” able to run on any combination of gasoline and alcohol fuels (which can be made not just from corn but from sugarcane and other plants, crop residue, natural gas, coal, garbage and many other sources).

This is the change that could happen fastest: Open Fuels Standard bills are now before both the Senate and the House and have bipartisan support. But insiders doubt they will pass in the little time Congress will be in session in what’s left of this election year.

FDD’s poll also shows that only a minority -- 43 percent -- think it will help to sue OPEC countries (with 55 percent opposed to this option), and only 42 percent support a federal gas tax summer holiday (with 55 percent opposed),

By comparison, note these supermajorities: Eighty percent of Americans want the government to provide incentives to energy companies to make alternative fuels available. Seventy-eight percent want tax incentives for consumers to buy them. Seventy-one percent favor tax incentives for car companies to build Flexible Fuel Vehicles. Sixty percent say get rid of the tariff on imported ethanol (most of which would come from Brazil and other developing countries in the tropics).

Better than three out of every four Americans understand that diversifying fuel choices and reducing dependence on energy controlled by unfriendly regimes will improve America’s economic health and help protect America’s sovereignty. More than six out of ten grasp that at least some of the money we now pay at the pump winds up in the hands of terrorists.

Areas of lingering concern: whether alternative fuels can be quickly and widely distributed; the reliability of the vehicles that use them; and whether making fuels from agricultural crops increases food prices.

Finally, whom do Americans blame for the present predicament? More than 70 percent point fingers at OPEC, oil companies and speculators, while also comprehending that demand for energy is rising globally. But 87 percent say they hold the federal government chiefly responsible. With numbers that high, plenty of politicians will talk about solving the energy crisis. We’ll see how many get off the couch and really work up a sweat.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.