Utahns' beliefs about gas prices and U.S. oil policy are similar to those of their neighbors in other Western states: They are concerned about the current and future price of gas and U.S. dependency on oil, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The poll for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to the environment, found that 96 percent of Utahns are worried about current gasoline prices. Most Utahns — 95 percent — are concerned about future gas prices, and 96 percent of Utahns are concerned about U.S. dependency on oil.

David Binder Research conducted the poll of 2,003 voters in California, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington from July 19-23. The survey's margin of error was plus or minus 2.2 percent. In Utah, 250 people were questioned, and the survey's margin of error was plus or minus 6.2 percent.

Overall, the responses by Western voters mirrored the Utah voters' answers: 94 percent of Western voters said they were concerned about current gas prices, 93 percent were concerned about future gas prices, and 94 percent were worried about oil dependency.

Patty Monahan, a spokeswoman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said it was surprising that results among the states were so harmonious, given their different political leanings.

"Price is getting consumers to realize we need to wean ourselves off dependence on petroleum and develop real alternatives to conventional fuels," she said.

Ninety-two percent of the voters in the poll, and 92 percent of the Utah voters surveyed, said they supported developing clean, alternative fuels. And 88 percent of the Western voters, as well as 91 percent of the Utah voters, said they support requiring less-polluting cars.

Eighty-nine percent of the voters surveyed said they were concerned about the lack of a plan to transition away from oil as a main energy source.

They also said they had felt the impact of high gas prices: 81 percent said they had experienced some degree of hardship because of rising gas prices. In Utah, 88 percent said they had experienced hardship because of the high prices.

Among those Western voters who were thinking about their next vehicle, 76 percent were very or somewhat likely to buy an alternative fuel vehicle or one that gets higher gas mileage. In Utah, it was 65 percent.

While the Union of Concerned Scientists has polled people over environmental issues in the past, this was the group's first poll about gas prices. The group and the pollster chose to survey voters in Western states because they are part of the Western Climate Initiative. The initiative began last year and aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The initiative's members include Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., along with governors and premiers of Arizona, British Columbia, California, Manitoba, Montana, New Mexico, Ontario, Oregon, Quebec and Washington.


E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com