The majority of Americans support the Obama administration’s new carbon-cutting proposal and say they are willing to shoulder higher electricity costs if it means tackling climate change, a new poll found.
About 67 percent of polling participants either “strongly” or “somewhat” support the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to curb emissions from power plants, while only 29 percent oppose it, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on Wednesday.
The poll surveyed 1,000 adults from June 11 to 15, about a week after the EPA unveiled its proposal, which would require states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. A Gallup survey conducted in March found similar results, with more than six in 10 Americans in favor of mandatory controls on carbon dioxide.
The Obama administration has hailed the EPA plan as a critical step for the worldwide fight to slow global temperature rise and said it could prompt other countries like China, the world’s largest emitter, to follow suit.
Climate advocates have generally cheered the plan, but argue it won’t do enough to make a meaningful impact on U.S. emissions. Industry trade groups and some Republican lawmakers and coal-state Democrats said the plan would decimate the country’s coal industry and overly burden utility companies, which would pass the cost of compliance onto ratepayers. Opponents have vowed to block the proposal and any future attempt to regulate the country’s greenhouse gases.
But, according to the poll, 57 percent of respondents said they would back a plan requiring companies to reduce emissions, even if it means paying more each month for electricity. That’s 9 percent more respondents than in an October 2009 poll, the WSJ noted.
That increase comes as more Americans accept the scientific conclusions on climate change. Sixty-one percent of Americans, compared with 54 percent five years ago, said that climate change is occurring and that some sort of action should be taken to address it, the poll found. The number of Americans who doubt climate science and oppose taking action dropped slightly to 37 percent, down from 41 percent in 2009.
Obama recently mocked the congressional Republicans who continue to deny the science on climate change, or at least refuse to acknowledge it. “When they’re asked about climate change, they say, ‘Hey look, I’m not a scientist,’” he said in a commencement address at the California at Irvine on Saturday. “What that really means is, ‘I know that manmade climate change really is happening, but if I admit it, I’ll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot, so I’m not going to admit it.’”
While the WSJ/NBC News poll boded well for Obama’s climate ambitions, the president otherwise received mostly low ratings. More than half of respondents said they believe Obama is no longer able to lead the country, and the percentage of Americans approving his handling of foreign policy issues has dropped to the lowest level of his two-term presidency, NBC News reported.