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On the Sunday editorial page (Page B8), we will be reporting on our latest Press Democrat Editorial Department online survey. But here’s a sneak peak at some of the results:

  • 52 percent of respondents say that high fuel costs and/or the slow economy have caused them to adjust their vacation plans this year.
  • Of those whose plans have changed, one in three say they plan to stay home while 30 percent say they are less likely to take long car trips.
  • Three out of four North Coast readers say they “strongly disagree” with the president’s call this week for Congress to lift a ban on offshore oil drilling in order to ease domestic fuel prices.
  • Seventy-four percent of respondents say they support a proposal in the U.S. Senate to assess a windfall profits tax on U.S. oil companies.

In all, 1,650 Press Democrat letter writers and other readers were invited to take the informal online survey. Of those, 344 responded. Here are some extra comments that we did not have room to include in Sunday’s editorial:

  • “Offshore drilling is not a sound solution as an oil supply,” wrote Pam Pizzimenti of Windsor. “Even if the consent for drilling was given today, the oil wouldn’t come on line until 2030, so gas prices would not be affected by this supply. Also it is a very limited amount of oil.”

  • “Since the consumer is always legally helpless in our present situation,we should do ‘trip consolidation,’ and support a return to the 55 MPH speed limit,” wrote John McDonald of Sebastopol. “Neither the major corporations nor the present political system is even faintly interested in the problems of the average American. I have lived too long to believe their blather.”
  • “Drilling off of the Sonoma Coast will never bring gasoline prices down one penny,” noted a respondent who chose not to be identified. “This is just a last-minute effort by the Bush Administration to hand our coast over to Big Oil before they go out of office.”

  • “Congress has stymied responsible drilling for oil, along with the building of nuclear plants and new refineries, while doing virtually nothing for the past 30 years to develop alternative sources of fuel,” wrote another. “The Washington weasels are largely responsible for this energy crisis.”

  • “This summer, my wife and I are going to Europe for a month,” wrote Mark Wardlaw of Santa Rosa. “It’s a terrible time to do so considering gas prices and the value of the dollar against the euro. But, it’s a great time in our lives. Life wins!

If you would like to take part in future online Press Democrat surveys, just send me your e-mail address at paul.gullixson@pressdemocrat.com, and I will be sure to add you to our list.

– Paul Gullixson