Americans as a whole support putting strict regulations on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from existing coal-fired power plants in order to fight global warming and improve public health, a Yale University poll released Thursday showed.
According to the poll conducted in April, 64 percent of the 1,013 Americans surveyed said they support a strict policy to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants, while 35 percent said they opposed it — a support ratio of nearly two to one. However, the country is divided on the issue by political party, with 80 percent of Democrats in favor of such rules and 56 percent of Republicans against.
The poll’s results come just days before the Obama administration will release what are expected to be strong limits on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted from existing coal plants, its most sweeping policy yet to address global warming.
Under the Clean Air Act — a law passed by Congress in 1970 and amended in 1990 — the Environmental Protection Agency is required to regulate any air pollution that threatens public health. After thorough scientific review, the EPA in 2009 officially found that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare, a finding that is widely agreed upon by scientists.
Under the new rules, the EPA is expected to propose so-called “performance standards” that requiring that states meet a certain level of emissions cuts from coal plants. Each state will then have to figure out their own ways to meet those standards, whether it be using efficient technology, joining cap-and-trade systems, or increasing their use of renewables — it’s up to them. States then submit plans to the EPA for approval.
The upcoming rules have proven to be extremely controversial, and despite the fact that the rules have not been released yet, several members of Congress and political groups have already come out against them — namely those who deny the scientific evidence for climate change.
For example, Six Senate Republicans — Marco Rubio (FL), David Vitter (LA), Tim Scott (SC), Mike Enzi (WY), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Tom Coburn (OK) — recently sent a letter to the EPA asking the agency not to move forward with the draft proposal. Three of the six are on the record denying man-made global warming. Over the course of their careers, these six senators have taken $3,141,624 from fossil fuel interests, according to a CAP Action analysis of OpenSecrets data.
The rest of the groups that have already come out against the regulations can be found here.