WASHINGTON, DC, July 18, 2013 (ENS) – A majority of American voters polled in a nationwide survey say they support President Barack Obama’s new plan to address climate change and protect public health by cutting the amount of carbon emitted in the United States.

The poll of 808 registered voters was conducted for the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council in the first week of July by two firms – Hart Research, which often works with Democrats, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, a firm that often works with Republicans.

A majority of 61 percent of respondents support the administration’s plan, and support is strong in all regions of the country. A plurality of 39 percent of respondents strongly support the plan.

power plant

The Mayo Generating Plant is a coal-fired power plant located in Roxboro, North Carolina owned by Progress Energy. (Photo by Scott Mosher)

Twenty-seven percent oppose it, including 19 percent who strongly oppose it.

The survey found that support for the plan among Democrats is 84 percent and 56 percent among independents.

Pollsters learned that among Republicans just under half, 49 percent, favor the EPA establishing standards to curb carbon emissions from power plants.

The plan that President Barack Obama announced on June 25 directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish carbon pollution standards for power plants to limit the amount of carbon pollution these plants can emit.

Today there are limits on soot, arsenic and mercury allowed into U.S. air and water. But there are no federal limits for emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide although the EPA determined in 2009 that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that endangers public health and welfare.

As a consequence, some 1,500 power plants in the United States release about 2.4 billion tons of carbon pollution into the air each year.

President Obama’s plan also would increase fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles as well as set energy efficiency standards for new household appliances and new buildings. The plan also would increase investment in renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power.

“It’s important that this is not a generational or regional issue – people in all age groups and in every region of the country endorse this plan,” said Jay Campbell, senior vice president at Hart Research. “Simply put, Americans want to see something done to counteract climate change, and they say setting limits on power plant emissions is an important step.”

Opened in 2012, the Aqua Pickering Solar Farm at the Pickering WWTP in Schuylkill Twp is used for the treatment and transportation of water to approximately 500,000 residents of 27 municipalities in Chester Delaware and Montgomery counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. (Photograph courtesy Conergy)

Opened in 2012, the Aqua Pickering Solar Farm at the Pickering wastewater treatment plant is used to treat and transport water to 500,000 residents in southeastern Pennsylvania. (Photograph courtesy Conergy)

“This poll clearly demonstrates momentum for action on this issue,” Campbell told reporters on a telebriefing Thursday. “People are going to express even more support for limiting carbon pollution as there are more public health problems and extreme weather. If we repeat this poll a year from now, we would see even more support.”

Chesapeake Beach President Robert Carpenter said, “The public wants Washington to address the issue of climate change, including Republicans who indicate strong support for each of the individual components of the plan. Not taking action is not an option the public will accept.”

Campbell said the survey findings contradict “a strain of thought out there that EPA is a villain … an evil agency.”

“But this poll contradicts that,” said Campbell. “We see that 49 percent of Republicans say they would support the EPA setting standards on the carbon emissions of power plants. That belies the notion that Republicans loathe everything about the EPA.”

The public’s concern about climate change appears to be on the rise. A Hart Research poll last December showed 31 percent rated climate change as a very serious problem, while now 39 percent view it as a very serious problem.

“Across our country, Americans feel obligated to protect future generations from the damaging effects of climate change,” said Peter Altman, NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Campaign Director.

“Americans also overwhelmingly support President Obama’s plan to do something about climate change now. Most importantly,” said Altman, “they stand strongly behind the President’s common sense solutions, led by using the Clean Air Act to clean up dirty power plants. These plants today face no limits on the dangerous carbon pollution they dump into the air. That must stop. Our future depends on it.”

Respondents also strongly support other climate change solutions outlined by the President on June 25th:

  • 79 support increasing fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles.
  • 78 percent support increasing investment in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power.
  • 78 percent support stronger energy efficiency standards for appliances and new buildings.
  • 76 percent support the United States taking a lead role in encouraging countries such as China and India to expand their efforts to curb carbon pollution.
  • 75 percent support strengthening communities against the effects of climate change, such as creating new flood reduction plans for areas hit by Hurricane Sandy, and drought and wildfire preparation plans for the Midwest and West.

Support for the entire climate action plan remains high even when Americans hear the main arguments for and against the plan.

Respondents were told:

“SUPPORTERS of this plan say that cutting carbon pollution is essential to keeping our air and water clean, protecting our kids’ health, and reducing the devastating effects of climate change. President Obama’s plan represents a reasonable and comprehensive approach that will help our economy to continue to grow and recover while sparking innovation in energy technology and cutting our dependence on foreign oil.

“OPPONENTS of this plan say it will seriously harm our economy just as it is starting to improve. This plan will mean higher energy costs, making it more expensive for companies to do business and leading to thousands of job losses and higher prices for consumers. All this without having any real impact on climate change, because big polluters such as India and China do not limit pollution from their power companies.”

Even after hearing both views, respondents still said they back the President’s climate plan: 59 percent support the plan, including 84 percent of Democrats, 53 percent of independents and one-third of Republicans. Just 32 percent oppose it.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2013. All rights reserved.