An eye-popping two-thirds of Americans support a new federal rule cutting carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants, according to a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll unveiled late yesterday.
The new regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) directs states to come up with plans — drawing on a menu of options — to reduce the carbon pumped out by their existing power plants. The overall goal is a national cut to those emissions of 30 percent by 2030, from where they were in 2005. It follows on the heels of another rule cutting those emissions from newly constructed power plants, and is a key component of President Obama’s overall effort to ratchet the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions down 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Critics claim the new rule will damage jobs and the economy, and harm the poor by driving up their energy prices. The Wall Street Journal’s own editorial board called the rule a bid to “transform and nationalize U.S. energy… without even the pretense of democratic consent.”
But 37 percent of respondents told the poll they “strongly support” EPA’s new rule, and 30 percent said they “somewhat supported” it, for an overall approval of 67 percent. Even more strikingly, 57 percent of the respondents said they supported the rules even if it meant an uptick in their utility bills — an increase of 9 percentage points since 2009.
The result joins an ongoing drumbeat of voter surveys finding widespread approval among Americans for the new regulatory push to fight climate change.
In a Washington Post-ABC News poll released earlier this week, a whopping 70 percent of respondents approved of the new federal limits. That number is consistent with the 65-to-75 percent support the poll has routinely found for regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions since 2009. Even in states that rely primarily on coal for electricity, support for the new regulation averaged 69 percent. And in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where the state governors have gone on record opposing the rule, support was 58 and 72 percent, respectively.
In early June, just after the rule’s announcement, 62 percent of Americans told a Bloomberg poll that they’d be willing to pay higher energy prices to cut carbon emissions. Another Post-ABC poll confirmed that 63 percent — and 51 percent of Republicans — would pay $20 a month more in energy bills to stave off climate change.
And in May, just before rule’s release, 64 percent of Americans surveyed by a Yale poll said they backed the limitations on power plant emissions.