Considering the Cost of Clean: Americans on Energy, Air Quality and Climate

Author data: 
Evan Lewis, Antje Williams
Publication Date: 
May 2016
Description: 
Program for Public Consultation
Project: 
Emerging Issues in Cooperative Security
The Program for Public Consultation
Document Type: 
Articles and Op-Eds
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS Priority of Reducing Health Effects of Air Pollution   Three in four respondents said that it is a high priority to reduce air pollution from energy production that has negative public health effects.  This includes a slight majority of Republicans and nine in ten Democrats.   Concern for Climate Effects of Greenhouse Gases   Seven in ten said it is a high priority to reduce greenhouse gases from energy production. This includes just under half of Republicans and nine in ten Democrats.    US Participation in International Climate Agreement After a briefing and assessment of arguments pro and con, seven in ten approved of the US  participating in the international agreement recently negotiated in Paris and signed in New York, and thereby adopting the goal of reducing its greenhouse gases approximately 2% a year.   Nine in ten Democrats approved, as did two in three independents.  Among Republicans a bare majority approved, but six in ten said it was at least tolerable.  The argument in favor of US participation was found convincing by three in four, including six in ten Republicans. The argument against was found convincing by a bare majority overall, but by seven in ten Republicans. A modest majority, overall, approved of the US providing aid to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gases as part of the larger Paris agreement, though a majority of Republicans were opposed.     The Clean Power Plan   After a briefing on the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and assessment of pro and con arguments, seven in ten said they favored it.  This included nine in ten Democrats and but just under half of Republicans.  While seven in ten said they saw significant value in the CPP for reducing greenhouse gases, almost eight in ten saw it as having value for the health benefits of cleaner air.  In states whose governments are challenging the CPP before the Supreme Court, two thirds support the CPP—just a slightly lower margin than for the rest of the country.  Among respondents who are in, or have a family member in, the coal industry, six in ten support the CPP—also a bit lower than the rest of the country.      Mitigating Clean Power Plan Effects on Coal Industry   Respondents were presented two options for mitigating the effects of the Clean Power Plan on the coal industry.  The option of providing government assistance to help coal workers who lose their jobs was favored by seven in 10, including 6 in 10 Republicans as well as 8 in 10 Democrats. However, the option of the government subsidizing the development and building of new technologies for sequestering carbon dioxide was supported by less than half, overall and among both parties. Asked how they would feel about the CPP if either of these measures were to be applied, support for the CPP rose eight points to nearly eight in ten, while Republican support rose 14 points to six in ten. Tax Incentives for Reducing Carbon Dioxide Respondents considered options for tax incentives to promote the reduction of carbon dioxide, over and above the reductions in power plant emissions called for in the Clean Power Plan. Large bipartisan majorities favored extending tax credits to consumers and businesses for installing fuel‐efficient lighting, doors, windows and insulation, building new energy efficient homes, and installing wind and fuel cells.      Regulations to Reduce Carbon Dioxide   Large bipartisan majorities favored government regulations requiring higher fuel efficiency standards for light cars and trucks, and heavy duty vehicles, and requiring electric companies to have a minimum portion of their electricity c ome from renewable sources.   Carbon Tax   Initially only a bare majority favored having a tax on carbon. However, six in ten favored the idea of using the income generated by a carbon tax to offset the impact of a carbon tax on people with low to middle incomes, and on this condition, the number favoring a carbon tax rose to two thirds.  This support, though, was not bipartisan. Dealing With Other Greenhouse Gases: Methane and Hydrofluorocarbons In addition to carbon dioxide, large majorities approved of measures to reduce other greenhouse gases.  Large bipartisan majorities approved of tax credits for building biogas facilities on farms, which would reduce methane.  Equally large bipartisan majorities favored requiring businesses to gradually replace hydrofluorocarbons with alternative refrigerants.