New Poll: Red State Voters Support EPA Climate Change Plan

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Voters in Louisiana, Alaska, Arkansas and North Carolina overwhelmingly support Environmental Protection Agency regulations to limit carbon pollution — even after hearing arguments for and against the regulations — according to a poll released Thursday by Harstad Strategic Research.

The poll, commissioned by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), asked more than 800 likely voters across nine tough Senate battleground states whether they favor an EPA plan to address climate change. The EPA’s plan is set to be released in June, and would establish first-ever standards limiting the amount of carbon that power plants can emit. The EPA estimates these regulations would slash carbon emissions in the country by 40 percent, according to the NRDC.

“When we commissioned this poll a few weeks ago, some thought we were taking a chance — putting it mildly — by hiring a well-known candidate pollster and encouraging him to ask the hard questions,” NRDC Action Fund President Heather Taylor-Miesle wrote in a blog post on Thurday. “We didn’t see it as a risky move because we know that voters have consistently supported clean energy and climate action in countless surveys, and in the 2012 election.”

Here are some of the results of that poll, which considered Louisiana, Alaska, Arkansas and North Carolina as red states, and Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, Colorado, and New Hampshire as blue or purple states:

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When asked flat-out whether they supported EPA regulations limiting carbon pollution, 67 percent of total voters said yes, while 26 percent said no. In the red states, 64 percent of voters supported EPA regulations to combat climate change, as opposed to 29 percent that did not.

What is arguably more interesting, though, is that even after hearing the arguments from both sides of the issue, voters overall and voters in red states still sided with the EPA. Voters were given certain arguments from the EPA and its opponents, and asked who they trusted more. The EPA arguments voters were asked to consider included “holding big polluters accountable for asthma and climate disruption” and “limits will spark clean energy innovation.” The anti-EPA arguments included “regulations will hurt businesses and kill jobs” and “regulations won’t stop pollution from India and China.”

In all, 56 percent of voters said they trusted EPA arguments, while 34 percent said they trusted anti-EPA arguments.

“Voters support doing the right thing on climate,” Taylor-Miesle wrote. “Candidates would do well to pay attention.”