WASHINGTON (AP) -- The belief is growing in this country that a real energy shortage exists, says an Associated Press poll.
At the same time, poll numbers suggest the perception of a shortage has not increased support for oil drilling in an Arctic refuge.
The poll's finding that half of Americans accept an energy shortage as fact represents a significant increase from last summer.
The poll, conducted for the AP by ICR of Media, Pa., found 50 percent said they believe the energy shortage is real, and 41 percent doubted it. Only a third felt the shortage was real last summer, while more than half were skeptical.
"If there's not a shortage now, there's going to be," said retiree Richard Buchanan of Massachusetts. "We're using up our resources."
The shift in public sentiment hasn't affected the level of support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Just over a third favor that Bush administration plan, while more than half oppose it. That's about the same sentiment people had a year ago.
"I'm against it because there are probably enough other sources of energy than oil," said Marguerite Purcell, a medical technologist from Stuartsville, N.J. "I don't think they're pursuing (alternative sources) because of the oil industry and the car manufacturers."
The Senate is set to debate sweeping energy legislation next week. The House already passed an energy bill that would include drilling in the refuge, but that proposal has run into problems in the Senate.
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