New Poll: Most Republicans Want To Regulate Carbon Pollution

CREDIT: AP Photo/David J. Phillip

A recent survey found that most Republicans want the government to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, and regulate carbon pollution. And the vast majority of Americans believe the U.S. should take action to reduce global warming, regardless of any perceived cost to the economy.

The new poll by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication found that 83 percent of Americans want their country to make an effort to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs. Despite calls for American inaction on climate until other countries act first, 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. should act “regardless of what other countries do.”

Americans ranked global warming 11th out of 13 listed national issues. Yet a solid majority — 71 percent — thinks that global warming should be at least a medium priority. Thirty-seven percent say it should be a high priority.

While 57 percent of Democrats — and just 19 percent of Republicans — believe climate change should be a high or very high priority for Congress or President Obama, there were areas of something that somewhat resembled partisan agreement. Both groups think CO2 should be regulated as a pollutant (85 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of Republicans). Both want to cut all fossil fuel subsidies (67 percent vs 52 percent). And big majorities of both groups want more funding and more tax rebates for renewable energy and efficient cars.

In general, Americans want less fossil fuels and more low-carbon energy — with many willing to pay more for those benefits:

  • 67 percent want to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant
  • 59 percent want to cut fossil fuel subsidies entirely — while 60 percent think cutting renewable subsidies is a bad idea
  • 56 percent would pay an extra $100 a year if it meant their electric utility was required to produce more than 20 percent electricity from renewables
  • 72 percent want more research funding for renewable energy

Sixty-five percent think corporations and industry should be doing more to address climate change. And 52 percent think Congress should be doing more — but just 46 percent believe the same for President Obama. Even less believe local governments should be doing more. This makes some sense, as many city, state, and local governments have taken the lead on addressing climate change. Still, only 39 percent believed federal, state, or local government can help reduce global warming, or protect people from the impacts of climate change.

Support for regulating carbon dioxide from existing power plants dropped 4 percent when it was described as a directive from President Obama to the EPA — and strong opposition rose 8 percent. Still, even with that 4 percent drop, 59 percent of Americans want the EPA to regulate carbon pollution from power plants. Different versions of a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax gained the support of almost half of respondents.