Survey: Half could support higher gas tax

Also shows broad support for other measures to promote conservation, develop alternatives.

By Steve Hargreaves, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- More than half of Americans would support higher gasoline taxes if the money went to research into alternative fuels, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The question in the survey, which was sponsored by the conservation-minded Civil Society Institute, didn't specify how high the theoretical tax increase would be.

But the survey appeared to indicate broad support for a variety of methods to conserve fuel and promote alternatives fuels.

Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed said the government should raise fuel efficiency standards.

Half the respondents said they would definitely or probably cut back on personal spending or summer travel if gas prices reach $3.50 a gallon. Seventy-two percent think prices will get that high.

With nationwide average prices already near $3 a gallon, demand for gasoline continues to grow in the United States. Up until this week, demand was actually growing faster than usual, according to the Energy Information Agency.

Eighty-three percent of survey respondents also believe they are being gouged at the gas pump.

Several federal investigations over the past few years have failed to turn up evidence of actual price fixing, and state investigations have only found limited instances of price gouging.

Seventy percent said they would back a windfall profits tax for oil companies if the money is used to fund research into alternative fuels. Seventy-eight percent said the government should spend more researching alternatives.

"You can pick up on a real sense of frustration in this survey," Pam Solo, president of the Civil Society Institute, said on a conference call. "Americans just don't see Washington getting the job done."  Top of page