Latest Polling Finds Strong Support For Clean Energy And Stricter Carbon Pollution Standards

Evidence of a striking shift in public opinion has begun to crystalize over the last few months: Poll after poll is finding staunch majorities of Americans view global warming as a “serious problem” and that human activity is a major driving cause.

In defiance of received Beltway wisdom, voters even told a recent Yale poll that a candidate’s views on global warming will affect their vote, and that the issue should be a top priority for the President and the Congress. Majorities have even stated that when it comes to deficit reduction, they prefer a tax on carbon emissions to cuts in education, Social Security, Medicare, or environmental protection.

Yesterday, Pew Research released new poll research that re-confirms the trend. When asked to choose between developing “alternative sources such as wind, solar and hydrogen” and expanding “exploration and production of oil, coal and natural” gas as their preferred priority for addressing America’s energy needs, 54 percent of Americans went with alternative energy. Only 34 percent chose continued prioritization of fossil fuels. That’s a drop from the 63 percent high in 2011, but an uptick over the 52 percent response last year.

Furthermore, Independents and Democrats were largely in concert, preferring alternative energy sources by 64 and 59 percent, respectively. Only 33 percent of Republicans went with solar and wind, in contrast to the 54 percent who preferred expanded fossil fuel use. But the distance between the two positions within the Republican group was smaller than the distance in the other two collections of voters.

And that wasn’t all. 62 percent of overall voters favored “setting stricter emission limits on power plants to address climate change,” with Democrats once again taking that position by a wide margin of 72 percent, and Independents coming in at a lower-but-still-impressive 64 percent. Republicans opposed the stricter standards by a 48 percent majority, but were again much more evenly split — the minority of GOP voters who favored the emissions limits close at the majority’s heels with 42 percent.

The age divide also stood out: Voters 18 to 29 supported alternative energy by a whopping 71 percent, and it wasn’t until voters crossed the age 65 that majorities flipped in favor of coal, oil and natural gas expansion.

And if the recent behavior and pronouncements of top lawmakers are any indication, this shift in the national mood is being felt. Newly minted Secretary of State John Kerry, who will shortly decide the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline, declared in his first big speech since his confirmation that, “We as a nation must have the foresight and courage to make the investments necessary to safeguard the most sacred trust we keep for our children and grandchildren: an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate.” President Obama came out swinging on the issue of climate change in both his Second Inaugural address and the State of the Union speech calling for new renewable electricity and energy efficiency targets, and warming that “if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations [from climate change] I will.”

The latest signs from the White House are that Obama may very well use his executive authority to limit the carbon existing power plants may emit, on top of the regulations the Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing for new power plants.

6 Responses to Latest Polling Finds Strong Support For Clean Energy And Stricter Carbon Pollution Standards

  1. fj says:

    And, The President has not started the wartime mode thing.

  2. Merrelyn Emery says:

    As Kuhn observed of the acceptance of new scienific paradigms, sometimes you have to wait until the older generations die out. But we can’t wait that long, ME

  3. bSpittle says:

    imagine if fox fake news wasn’t teaching its impaired audience to hate non-polluting energy.

  4. Pat Ravasio says:

    If you want even more ammunition to support the need for action now, please read a recently released report from Stanford University biologists about the ‘global collapse’ to our environment being brought on by a multitude of causes, most related to fossil fuels and chemical use. Link here: Please share this report. It helps build the case that our situation is URGENT.

  5. David B. Benson says:

    Today’s TNYT has an article in the biz section about a small modular reactor alternative, the mPower from Babcock & Wilcox, which I hope will see increasing deployed instead of natgas burners as backup for wind and solar:

  6. Ozonator says:

    I think the 1%ers’ hatred against renewables has been taken out of FauxNew’s doodle bugs.

    Looks like the extreme GOP is outsourcing propaganda and NRA nukes/quakes to the DPRK. President Obama burning like a Tibetan protester is typical of the extreme GOP portraying AGW with a globe. Or, maybe Mengele Morano and others are also getting paid to Swift boat the People’s Republic of China’s President Hu Jintao and his carbon market. “Threatening neighbor South Korea with “final destruction… erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction,” North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong” (“North Korea Shows Barack Obama In Flames (VIDEO)”;, 2/19/13). “Chuck Hagel …President Obama nominated him to be the next defense secretary” and extremist Republican and Christian “senators denounced Hagel’s “erratic record” (“15 GOP Senators Sign Letter Urging Obama To Withdraw Chuck Hagel’s Nomination”; by Meenal Vamburkar;, 2/21/13).