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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Americans Favor GHG Regulation, Despite Potential For Higher Energy Costs

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A super-majority of Americans support the regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) by the federal government, while recognizing that doing so might increase energy costs in the short-term.  In other words, the lies perpetrated on the American people by climate change denying Cons and their allies are falling on deaf ears.  Their false messaging is no longer working – Americans are beginning to realize the dangers involved with continuing along the path we’ve been on and are supporting efforts to change to a better path.

To complete the picture, this is all happening despite a profound lack of interaction between even President Obama and Americans, but in a larger sense, climate change realists and Americans.  Very little effort has been made thus far to generate large-scale communication to Americans about the Waxman-Markey climate action plan, for instance.  The wonks are doing their thing in their little bubble and the American people are being left to fend off Con talking points coming from every corporate media source out there.  I know Al Gore and Van Jones and many other individuals are doing their best to educate Americans about the dangers of climate change, but I would feel much more confident about climate change legislation if more large-scale messaging was being conducted.

Back to the primary subject of this post, ABC and the Washington Post conducted a telephone poll from April 21-24 of 1,072 adults.  They were looking for hot-button issues and GHG regulation made the list (I recommend taking a peek at some of the other questions – their wording is absolutely horrible).  The first question and the response breakdown were as follows:

Do you think the federal government should or should not regulate the release of greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming?  Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Should: 75%  (strongly: 54%, somewhat: 21%)

Should not: 21%  (strongly: 12%, somewhat: 9%)

No opinion: 4%

Those are pretty strong results considering the amount of money fossil-fuel corporations have blown on full-page newspaper and television advertising.  I would say that as of now, thankfully, they’re not getting their money’s worth.  75% of those polled think GHGs should be regulated.  That’s actually quite amazing taking the entire set of current events into account.

Okay, the second question and the response breakdown were as follows:

How concerned are you that federal regulation of greenhouse gases could substantially raise the price of things you have to pay for?

Concerned: 77%  (very: 36%, somewhat: 41%)

Not concerned: 22%  (very: 8%, somewhat: 14%)

No opinion: 1%

So the answers to the first question are put into stark light here.  Americans think that they will end up paying substantially more for their energy if GHGs are regulated.  Yet they’re still in favor of the regulations.  This second question is arguably the only way in which the fossil-fuel crowd has succeeded in their messaging: they’ve convinced Americans of an energy tax.  The good news is energy costs don’t have to increase due to GHG regulations.  If handled correctly, a majority of Americans could receive a tax cut from the government for the same amount of money that energy costs go up.  Thus, they would be no worse off financially, and in fact some people could actually be beter off, if GHGs are regulated.  That’s not even considering potential quality of life improvements as a result of switching energy sources.

Continuing along this theme, I found an NBC/WSJ telephone survey from April 23-26 of 1,005 adults.  The first question, listed at #20b deals with opinions of proposals President Obama has suggested since he was inaugurated, deals with exactly the proposal I outline above:

Do you approve or disapprove of the proposal to charge a fee to companies that emit greenhouse gases, that might result in higher utility bills, and using the money to provide tax cuts for middle-income Americans?

Approve: 58%

Disapprove: 35%

Not sure: 7%

The second question, listed as #21 (which brings to mind a news article I will write a different post about soon):

Would you approve or disapprove of a proposal that would require companies to reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming, even if it would mean higher utility bills for consumers to pay for the changes?

Approve: 53%

Disapprove: 40%

Not sure: 7%

While these results didn’t generate the kind of response the ABC/WaPo questions did, they’re still very significant, especially in this economy.  At least a majority of Amerians support charging GHG emitting companies, even if their utility bills could increase.  I think these results would look even better once President Obama addresses them with the American people in a substantial way over the course of weeks or months.  Few Americans know what candidate-Obama’s energy plan looked like and few Americans know what the draft climate legislation contained.  Once that information is made widely available, Americans should be able to easily see the benefits that the plans will bring.

Unfortunately, I don’t expect any Cons in the Senate to support such legislation.  By the same token, I do expect a number of ConservaDems to join the Cons in both watering down cliamte change legislation and/or blocking its passage to a significant degree.  I expect that to happen despite results like those above, for the simple reason that dirty energy lobbyists will be swarming the capital during legislation development.  We as Coloradans and Americans can do our part by staying in contact with our Representatives and Senators Udall and Bennet about our expectations for climate change legislation.  Remember, the problem is worse than most people realize.  We need this legislation to be as strong and aggressive as possible in reducing our GHG emissions.

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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