POLL: Swing State Voters Support EPA Reining In Carbon From Power Plants


Coal Dark Future

CREDIT: AP/Matthew Brown

Voters in swing states solidly support the Environmental Protection Agency’s newly-announced regulations to reduce emissions from power plants, according to a new survey.

The poll, released this week from the League of Conservation Voters, relied on interviews from 1,113 voters in 11 states with swing Senate races in the 2014 election, and found 74 percent of them support the EPA’s regulations to limit carbon emissions from power plants. That includes 92 percent of Democratic respondents, 72 percent of independents and 58 percent of Republicans. The respondents also much preferred the EPA to regulate carbon emissions rather than Congress — 66 percent trusted the EPA to decide whether or not to regulate carbon emissions, while only 12 percent trusted Congress to do so.

EPA regulations even seeped into voters’ decisions on political candidates: 48 percent of respondents said they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who wasn’t supportive of the new regulations. That bodes well for Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, who this month announced his support of the EPA’s new regulations. Climate change became a point of contention early on in the Virginia race — candidate Ken Cuccinelli II (R) has made his climate-denying opinions clear, and his harassment of climate scientist Michael Mann has been featured in McAuliffe campaign ads.

The Obama administration has fielded criticism in recent weeks over regulations on the carbon emissions of new power plants, which were announced in September as part of the president’s climate action plan. Most of it has been from the coal industry, however, which has dug up the oft-cited claim that Obama is waging a war on coal, and from Congress. This week, congressmen from two coal-heavy states — Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV), announced a bill that would block the agency from regulating carbon emissions from power plants.

But even as the coal industry lashes out against the new carbon regulations, the poll’s results add to a growing body of evidence that shows that Americans support limiting carbon pollution. A February poll from Duke University found 64 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” supported regulating greenhouse gas emissions from industry and transportation. In May, the Yale Project on Climate Change found 68 percent of Independent voters wanted the U.S. to regulate carbon. And a bipartisan poll from July found 79 percent of respondents were more likely to vote for a candidate who supported taking action on climate change, and that even among those unfavorable to President Obama, 56 percent still supported him taking action on climate change.