A new poll shows coastal state residents supporting offshore drilling, a factor spurring oil and gas industry groups to push for increased production.
But the Monmouth University poll released this week also shows strong support for offshore wind farms and deep concerns over the environmental protection and health of coastal areas.
The analysis of public attitudes in five mid-Atlantic states showed 46 percent of residents support offshore drilling -- a significant increase from 33 percent who supported such production when the same poll was last conducted two years ago.
The new survey showed 37 percent opposing drilling, compared with the 40 percent who opposed the policy two years ago. The number of people who have no opinion on the issue fell by half over that period, with those individuals moving mostly to support drilling, according to the analysis.
The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) quickly jumped on the poll to revive the call for increased offshore drilling.
"Nothing about this poll should come as a surprise," IPAA president and CEO Barry Russell said in a statement. "This poll represents the latest indication of the American people's support for that strategy -- capturing the interests and impressions of a segment of the country not necessarily predisposed to that point of view. Times have changed, however -- and so must we."
The study surveyed 1,006 residents of coastal New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia in April. It has a 3.1 percent margin of error.
The poll found somewhat varying views on offshore drilling, depending on the state. In Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey, the majority of residents support drilling, while support sits at 42 percent in Virginia and 37 percent in New York.
Meanwhile, 82 percent of coastal residents would support the placement of non-visible windmills offshore, and 67 percent would support the placement of turbines even if they could be seen from land.
Seventy-six percent said protecting coastal areas should be a high priority, with 61 percent saying they would support greater efforts to protect local coasts even if it required tax increases.
Less than half said they believe the government has done a good job protecting coastal habitats and water quality, while a majority are "very concerned" about water pollution and beach erosion.
Click here for the Monmouth University poll.