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News Releases


Nine out of ten Americans making lifestyle changes to cope with rising energy costs, RBC survey says

"NIMBYism" on the decline as Americans grapple with solutions
Four in ten have considered moving closer to their place of work to save on transportation costs

NEW YORK, June 2, 2008 — Ninety per cent of Americans have made changes in their daily lives to counter higher energy prices, according to an annual energy survey released today by RBC Capital Markets, one of North America's leading energy investment banks. And while six out of 10 say they would rather pay more for cleaner fuels, an almost equal number of Americans (58 per cent) say it is more important to keep the green in their wallets than to participate in green initiatives.

The national survey of 1,007 U.S. respondents, released in conjunction with RBC Capital Markets' annual North American Energy Conference being held in New York today and tomorrow, found that in response to higher prices at the pump, 76 per cent of those polled said they are driving less, 19 per cent are using or plan to take public transportation more often and 11 per cent have made or are considering carpool arrangements. Four out of 10 workers said they have considered moving closer to their place of work in order to save on transportation costs, and 82 per cent of respondents said they will consider buying a hybrid when they purchase their next vehicle.

Even Americans with incomes of more than $100,000 are feeling the energy pinch, with 48 per cent saying they are dining out less often and 21 per cent saving less for retirement.

"The issues Americans are facing as a result of the current energy crisis have prompted not only a change in their attitudes, but also changes in their actual behavior as they try to manage the impact on their daily lives," said Kurt Hallead, Director of Global Energy Research for RBC Capital Markets.

When asked how their summer vacation plans have been altered, half said they are either staying locally or are not vacationing at all. Almost two-thirds of Americans said they would support a ''holiday,'' or repeal, of the federal gas tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Of this group, none said they would drive less, and nearly 20 per cent said they would actually drive more because they could afford to.

Americans' NIMBY "Not In My Backyard" syndrome also appears to be waning. Only 16 per cent of Americans said that they would oppose the construction of any type of energy plant or facility in their hometown, down from 23 per cent in 2007. Seventy-one per cent of Americans said they would support an alternative-energy system in their hometown, including a wind or solar facility, up from 58 per cent last year; 34 per cent would support a clean coal technology plant (up from 27 per cent last year); 32 per cent would support a liquefied natural gas facility (up from 25 per cent last year); and 21 per cent would support a nuclear power plant (up from 17 per cent). Nevertheless, the survey found that although a majority of Americans attribute the rapid rise in gas prices to a lack of oil refining capacity in the U.S., eight out of 10 said they oppose the construction of an oil refinery in their hometown.

"Americans are feeling the pain of soaring energy prices and it appears they are actually beginning to grasp the severity of our energy dependence," added Hallead. "The dilemma has always been that the public want solutions to the country's energy problems, but not solutions that would overly impinge on their day-to-day lives. That is starting to change and people are taking action."

Notwithstanding all the changes Americans are making, compared with last year, respondents are far less optimistic about solving the country's energy woes. When asked if the U.S. will ''find a solution to its energy problems in your lifetime,'' 66 per cent of survey respondents said no, up from 42 per cent last year. Even so, eight out of 10 Americans polled said they will consider a candidate's stand on energy issues in this year's presidential election, an increase from about five out of 10 in 2004.

"Although it's disheartening that Americans are more pessimistic about our energy problems, it's promising that people are more in tune with what needs to be done to help solve the myriad energy issues we are facing as a country," said Marc Harris, RBC Capital Markets' Co-Head of Global Research.

Other highlights of the survey include:

  • Ninety-three per cent of Americans agree the U.S. needs to find ways to produce more of its own oil rather than rely so much on foreign oil sources, while 59 per cent said that oil drilling should be allowed in the North Atlantic and Pacific coastal areas or the Arctic.

  • When respondents were asked, "How far would you drive to save 20 cents on a gallon of gas?" - one out of five said they would drive 10 miles or more to save 20 cents per gallon.

  • Six out of 10 of those surveyed said they believe that their personal activities have a meaningful impact on global warming, yet 20 per cent admitted they are not taking any steps to reduce their own carbon footprint.

  • More than half (54 per cent) of survey respondents disagreed with the idea of taxing Americans who drive SUVs or other gas-guzzling vehicles not required to perform their job.

The RBC survey was conducted May 17 - 23, 2008, and included 1,007 online respondents. GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.) assisted RBC Capital Markets in the survey. The margin of error was ±2 per cent.

About RBC Capital Markets
RBC Capital Markets is the corporate and investment banking arm of RBC and is active globally in debt origination, sales and trading, foreign exchange, infrastructure finance, structured products, metals and mining, and energy. Its North American platform includes a significant U.S. middle market investment banking franchise and leading equity, underwriting, sales, trading and research businesses. Bloomberg ranks the firm as the 12th largest investment bank globally.

RBC Capital Markets' Global Energy Group provides advice and raises capital for the energy and utilities sectors around the world, including exploration & production, oil field services, pipelines, master limited partnerships (MLPs), and refining and marketing. The firm provides award winning energy research that covers more than 200 energy companies around the world. RBC is one of the most experienced banks in the world in oils sands financing and is a Nomad on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

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For further information, please contact:

Kevin Foster,
RBC, (212)428-6902, kevin.foster@rbccm.com
Loretta Healy,
Hubbell Group, (781) 878-8882, lhealy@hubbellgroup.com


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06/02/2008 11:30:54