Voters Are Split on Whether to Ban New Offshore Drilling Nationwide

Following California oil spill, 45% of voters support a ban on future offshore drilling in the state
Cleanup workers search for contaminated sand and seaweed in front of drilling platforms and container ships about one week after an oil spill from an offshore oil platform on Oct. 9, 2021, in Huntington Beach, Calif. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
October 13, 2021 at 6:00 am UTC

In the wake of the massive oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach, Calif., the question of whether or not to ban new offshore drilling nationwide has split voters, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll, while walking back existing offshore drilling elicits more decisive opposition. 

Meanwhile, when asked about new drilling off the coast of California specifically, the balance tips in favor of a ban.

More on the numbers: 

  • Roughly half of registered voters (49 percent) say they oppose a ban on existing offshore drilling, while 31 percent support such a ban. 
  • Building new offshore drilling infrastructure nationwide -- including platforms and pipelines -- split the electorate, with 40 percent supporting future offshore drilling and 42 percent opposing it.
  • At least half of Democrats support a ban on both new and existing offshore drilling, while a more overwhelming share of Republicans oppose both. These findings come as the House Natural Resources Committee plans to mark up two bills on Wednesday that would require more aggressive oversight of offshore drilling infrastructure, and as California lawmakers push to ban new federal leasing in the state’s waters.
  • In the case of California, which has seen numerous spills over the years and where the cleanup of the most recent spill is ongoing, voters are slightly less attached to offshore extraction: 44 percent say they would oppose a ban on existing drilling in the state, and 36 percent would support it. 
  • Voters in the West are more likely than the electorate as a whole to support bans on both existing (43 percent) and new drilling (52 percent) off the California coast.  
  • Asked how much they had seen, read or heard about the spill, which was first reported Oct. 2, 30 percent of voters said they heard “a lot” and 38 percent heard “some.” Smaller shares said they heard “not much” (16 percent) and “nothing at all” (17 percent). 


The Oct. 8-11 poll surveyed 1,999 registered voters and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

Lisa Martine Jenkins previously worked at Morning Consult as a senior reporter covering energy and climate change.

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