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Strong Public Support For Mandatory Carbon Reductions

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Poll results show 42 percent of Americans trust the Obama administration more than Republicans in Congress in deciding whether the U.S. should regulate carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Congressional Connection Poll
Poll results show 42 percent of Americans trust the Obama administration more than Republicans in Congress in deciding whether the U.S. should regulate carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

From the Congressional Poll Connection:

By Jason Dick

There is strong public sentiment for limiting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in energy legislation, according to the latest Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Two-thirds of Americans favor including limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in a comprehensive energy bill, a number that seems to belie the difficulties the Senate is having in arriving at a consensus on legislation.

The House passed a bill in June 2009 that would impose the nation's first mandatory reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming by establishing a cap-and-trade system. But the chamber's passage on a 219-212 vote came only after 44 Democrats voted against it, and eight Republicans voted for it.

But that vote isn't reflective of the survey results as viewed by party affiliation. While 75 percent of Democrats surveyed favor including mandatory reductions, so did 59 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of independents.

The public trusts the judgment of the Obama administration more than that of congressional Republicans when it comes to deciding whether the federal government should regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases, according to the poll. Forty-two percent said they trusted Obama more; thirty-three percent said they trusted Republicans in Congress more.

Independents slightly favored trusting Obama more with the decision. Thirty-six percent said the administration was more trustworthy on deciding whether to regulate greenhouse gases, while 29 percent said congressional Republicans and 22 percent said neither. Democrats overwhelmingly trusted the administration, 75-10 percent, the near-mirror image of Republicans surveyed, who trusted their own in Congress, 70-11 percent over the administration.

Those results come on the heels of Thursday's vote in the Senate, in which the chamber voted down, 53-47, a resolution sponsored by Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski that would have disapproved of EPA's regulation of greenhouse gases.

That is the only climate-change related legislation to make it to the chamber floor during the 111th Congress.

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed legislation last year that is more narrowly focused on energy sources, including a renewable mandate. The Senate debate has focused recently on whether to push for a narrower energy or a broader-based climate change bill.

For the public, it's the more the merrier. Along with the 66 percent who favor limits on greenhouse gases in an energy bill, 87 percent favor requiring utilities to produce more energy from wind, solar or other renewable sources; 78 percent favor more stringent efficiency standards for buildings and major appliances; 68 percent want to expand exploration and development of domestic coal, oil and gas resources, and 50 percent want to provide incentives for increased development of nuclear power.

The kitchen-sink approach works across party lines, suggesting broad support for a broader bill. Ninety-two percent of Democrats, 88 percent of independents and 80 percent of Republicans favored requiring utilities to utilize more renewable sources of energy. Eighty-three percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents and 74 percent of Republicans favored tougher efficiency standards for buildings and appliances.

Even increased development of U.S. oil, coal and gas was popular across party lines: Eighty-three percent of Republicans favored that, along with 66 percent of independents and 60 percent of Democrats.

The only real split along party lines was on increasing incentives for nuclear power. While 64 percent of Republicans liked that idea, that number dropped to 49 percent among independents and plummeted with Democrats, 40 percent of whom favored including such provisions in an energy bill.

The poll of 1,010 adults who were reached by landline or cell phone was conducted Thursday through Sunday. The margin of error is 4 points for the entire sample, with larger error margins for subgroups.

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