More than six in 10 Americans favor putting mandatory controls on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, a new Gallup survey finds. They also support setting higher emissions and pollution standards for business and industry.
Researchers say the poll, conducted in March, suggests that the general public will support the Obama administration’s latest proposals for slashing carbon emissions from existing U.S. power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement on Monday has brought praise from environmentalists and criticism from some Republican and Democratic lawmakers, particularly those from coal-rich states and districts who see the proposals as a threat to the fossil fuel industry.
While the results seemingly bode well for the president’s climate agenda, they do mark a drop in support for emissions regulations overall. According to Gallup's annual environmental survey, between 2007 and 2012 support for carbon controls and pollution standards dropped by 14 points each. This year, support dipped further still on both questions.
The Washington-based research company offered two explanations for the decline. One, the recession — support peaked in 2007, and Americans are generally less supportive of environmental controls when the economy is strained. And two, Obama’s presidency. “Some Americans may be less likely to favor government regulation of the environment when a Democrat, rather than a Republican, is in office,” Gallup wrote in a press release on Wednesday.
For the 2014 results, about three-fourths of Democrats supported both proposals, while about half of Republicans said they favor both.