WASHINGTON (AP) – Eight in 10 people say it’s important for Americans now driving sport utility vehicles to switch to more fuel-efficient vehicles to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil, a poll found.

With gas prices hovering around $3 a gallon nationally and the price of natural gas rising sharply, six in 10 said they are not confident President Bush is taking the right approach to solving the nation’s energy problems, according to the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Given several choices for dealing with energy problems, the public has some clear preferences:

• Almost seven in 10 want the government to establish price controls on gasoline and want more spending on subway, rail and bus systems.

• Just over seven in 10 want to give tax cuts to companies to develop wind, solar and hydrogen energy.

• Just over eight in 10 want higher fuel efficiency required for cars, trucks and SUVs.

• Slightly more than half, 52 percent, favor giving tax cuts to energy companies to explore for more oil.

The rising anxiety over high gas prices has caused a shift in public priorities about the importance of exploring for new energy.

Almost six in 10 now say exploring for new sources of energy is more important than protecting the environment. People were evenly split on that question in 2002.

Half now support drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska – up from 42 percent who felt that way in March.

Only four in 10 wanted to promote the increased use of nuclear power, while slightly more than half opposed that step.

The Pew poll of 1,523 adults was taken Sept. 8-11 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

On the Net:

Pew Research Center – http://www.people-press.org

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