Poll: 70 Percent Back Cuts to Power Plant Emissions

Poll: 70 Percent Back Cuts to Power Plant Emissions

By Michael Cipriano - June 3, 2014

 A large, bipartisan majority of Americans believe the federal government should limit the release of greenhouse gases from existing power plants, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The survey, released Tuesday, found that 70 percent of respondents support limits on such emissions in an effort to reduce global warming, while the same percentage also believes the government should require states to limit the amount of greenhouse gases produced within their borders.

The proposed EPA regulations to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 received strong support from voters on both sides of the aisle -- at least among the citizenry, if not in Congress -- with nearly 80 percent of Democrats and almost two-thirds of Republicans backing the changes. Additionally, 79 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans support the idea of federal emissions requirements on the states.

The survey also found that 63 percent of Americans say they would be willing pay an extra $20 a month in energy costs as part of efforts to control emissions. The breakdown in responses to this question had a partisan component, but it was not as pronounced as Washington pundits and policymakers might suggest: Half of Republicans, and 71 percent of Democrats, say they’d pony up more to improve air quality. Independents were in the middle.

The results of the survey closely align with findings from Post-ABC polls since 2009.

President Obama discussed the EPA proposals Saturday in his weekly address, asserting that the changes would reduce carbon pollution, smog and soot that “threaten the health of the most vulnerable Americans.”

“Today, about 40 percent of America's carbon pollution comes from power plants. But right now, there are no national limits to the amount of carbon pollution that existing plants can pump into the air we breathe -- none," the president said, adding that “we limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury, sulfur, and arsenic that power plants put in our air and water.”

Many lawmakers, including Democrats representing states that produce significant amounts of coal or rely heavily on it for electricity, do not share Obama’s belief in the proposals.

Kentucky Secretary of State and U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes said the EPA regulations would kill Kentucky coal-mining jobs and described the proposals as “proof that Washington isn’t working for Kentucky.”

Kentucky was the third-largest coal-producing state in 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, another Democrat seeking a U.S. Senate seat, also opposes the regulations -- an unsurprising stance given that her state is the nation’s second-largest coal producer.

“I will stand up to President Obama, (EPA Administrator) Gina McCarthy, and anyone else who tries to undermine our coal jobs,” she said in a statement. “Washington bureaucrats need to understand, these are not numbers on a balance sheet, they are real people with families to feed.”

The Post-ABC poll of 1,002 adults was conducted from May 29 to June 1 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Michael Cipriano

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