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Americans Favor a Carbon Cap

Majority of Americans favors a cap even if it means higher energy prices.

Encouraging news as the Obama administration pushes to build smart energy policy into the Federal budget.  According to a March 2009 poll by Pew, a majority of the American public (59 percent) favors setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions and making companies pay for their emissions, even if that may mean higher energy prices.

A third (33 percent) oppose capping carbon emissions under these conditions. (Compare that to 2007 numbers that showed support for the cap at 62 percent dropping to 46 percent when respondents were told of a potential impact on energy prices.)

Seven-in-ten Democrats (70 percent) favor limiting carbon emissions even if it may ultimately result in higher energy prices, compared with 60 percent of independents and 42 percent of Republicans. Still, 42 percent is nothing to scoff at.

These numbers are reinforced by a March Zogby Interactive poll indicating three in five voters support President Obama’s call for “this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.”

The Zogby poll shows 58 percent of voters agree with President Obama, including a significant 73 percent of moderates. It appears that Obama’s push for strong climate and energy legislation maintains broad-based support across age, income, education, regional and ethnic groups.

The Zogby poll showed more than two-thirds of young voters support President Obama’s push for a carbon cap, with 68 percent of those ages 18-24 backing an increased focus on renewable energy and a cap on carbon pollution.

Further, the Zogby poll shows agreement with Obama’s plan from:


  • 73 percent of moderates

  • 88 percent of African Americans and 61 percent of Hispanic Americans

  • 61 percent of union members

  • Majorities from all regions of the United States (East, Central/Great Lakes, South, West)

The numbers are strong. A clear signal to leaders that the public is ready for the real thing when it comes to climate policy -- perhaps more ready than those who represent them in Congress.

This piece originally appeared on The Sightline Institute's blog, The Daily Score

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