Some 59.6 percent of Americans surveyed in the poll released on Wednesday said they would favour government efforts to boost domestic drilling and refinery construction to cool record prices.

The mood of Americans has improved slightly but remains gloomy this month, as high gasoline prices cause many to consider making significant changes in their lives—including how often they drive, where they go on vacation and how often they dine out, a new Reuters/Zogby poll shows.

Republican Bills Would Ease Oil Drilling, Refinery Construction

House committees today are scheduled to start considering legislation designed to encourage construction of refineries and new drilling for oil and natural gas, including measures long sought by industry that have been given new life by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Supporters of the legislation said the hurricanes highlighted a need to expand the domestic oil industry, to keep consumer prices down. Opponents said lawmakers were using the hurricanes as an excuse to approve measures that would lead to more pollution.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.), chairman of the Resources Committee, sponsored the bills that will be marked up in their respective committees. Some Democrats on those committees said they were displeased with the proposals and would try to change them.

Pombo's bill would allow states to authorize drilling off their coasts in areas where doing so has been prohibited. It also would allow drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.