A Gallup poll released Wednesday indicates that nearly half of Americans "worry a great deal" about the cost and availability of energy. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
March 30 (UPI) -- Nearly half of Americans are stressed about the cost and availability of energy, up from around a third of Americans one year ago, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.
The poll, conducted between March 1 and 18, found that 47% of respondents "worry a great deal" about the rising cost of energy. Another 30% worry a "fair amount"; 17% worry a little.
Concerns over energy have been rising steadily since 2020, when fewer than one-fourth of Americans responded that they worried a great deal about its cost. In 2021, that figure was 37%.
The poll's results indicate that energy-related stress currently is on par with national sentiment in 2012, when the price of gas hit what was at the time its highest-ever point at $3.60 per gallon.
Current prices at the pump have soared much higher. The AAA reported that the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas across the country was $4.24 as of Wednesday.
The Gallup survey also found that 44% of U.S. adults identify the energy situation in the country as "very serious," and 46% describe it as "fairly serious."
Stress about energy costs also fell along party lines. Among those who identify as Republicans, two-thirds now worry a great deal about energy availability and affordability, compared with 28% of Democrats and 48% of independents, the poll found.
Widespread anxiety about energy is driving the White House to look for new ways to drive down gas prices.
"This is sort of a five-alarm fire at the White House -- they are extremely intensely concerned," Jeff Stein, a political reporter at the Washington Post, told CBS News.
"High gas prices are one of the most salient political issues. People see it every day, they feel it in their pocketbooks. It affects a president's approval rating quite dramatically."
Another poll released by Quinnipiac University on Wednesday found that four out of 10 Americans blame rising gas prices on policies enacted by President Joe Biden's administration, The Hill reported.
Energy prices are so high due to a variety of reasons, according to experts -- cuts to oil production during COVID-19 combined with a post-pandemic surge in demand for gas, as well as a U.S. ban on Russian oil imports in response to their invasion of Ukraine, are major factors.
"The world needs Russian oil and refined products," Tom Kloza, the Global Head of Energy Analysis at Dow Jones' Oil Price Information Service, told PBS News earlier this month. "If you lose that Russian oil, you could see prices really go up for a long period of time."