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RFF/Stanford/USA Today Poll Shows Majority Support for Regulating Power Plant GHG Emissions

The first round of results from the RFF/Stanford/USA Today poll was released today and it shows that a majority of the US favors doing something to address the threat of climate change, although there is substantially less agreement about what exactly to do. There’s a lot to dig into that’s relevant to climate policy options we analyze here at RFF.  For example, the poll finds that 54 percent of respondents supports the US government requiring power plants to limit their emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants. That number is up from recent years, but it’s down slightly from its high in 2007.

Full wording of the question and historical responses are below:

Q36.     [RANDOMLY ASSIGN RESPONDENTS TO BE ASKED EITHER VERSION A OR VERSION B OF THE INTRODUCTION TO THE NEXT QUESTION.]

VERSION A: For the next items, please tell me for each one whether it’s something the government should require by law, encourage with tax breaks but not require, or stay out of entirely.  Each of these changes would increase the amount of money that you pay for things you buy. …First…Next… 

VERSION B: For the next items, please tell me for each one whether it’s something the government should require by law to try to reduce future global warming, should encourage with tax breaks but not require, or stay out of entirely.  Each of these changes would increase the amount of money that you pay for things you buy. …First…Next… 

[AFTER READING EACH ITEM, INTERVIEWER PAUSE, THEN ASK] “should the government require this by law (pause), encourage it with tax breaks, or stay out of it entirely?”

 Q36_5: Lowering the amount of greenhouse gases that power plants are allowed to release into the air?

 

Q36_5

3/14/2006

4/10/2007

11/29/2009

6/7/2010

11/14/2010

3/11/2012

6/21/2012

12/05/2013

Require by law

61

62

42

42

44

42

41

54

Encourage by tax   breaks

26

26

34

38

33

28

37

25

Stay out of way   entirely

11

10

22

19

20

27

21

21

Don’t know/Refused

2

3

1

1

2

3

1

1

Total

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

100

N

1002

1002

1005

1000

1001

1428

804

801

Full particulars of the poll:

Resources for the Future/Stanford University/USA Today poll, Conducted by Abt SRBI, Interview dates: Nov, 20 – Dec 5, 2013,  801 adults nationwide, margin of error: +/- 4.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level

Expect more results in the future on both climate and energy topics – the precise wordings of the questions and responses discussed in today’s USA Today story are available here.  We’ve been lucky to work closely with RFF University Fellow Jon Krosnick and Bo Macinnis, both of Stanford, on the this poll.

About Peter Nelson

Pete Nelson is Resources for the Future's Communications Director and co-managing editor of Common Resources. Pete has over twenty years' experience writing about and researching environmental and natural resource policy issues. He was a founder of the environmental news service Greenwire and served as its first editor-in-chief. More recently, he served as Communications Director for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster and Offshore Drilling created by President Obama after the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Views expressed above are those of the author. Resources for the Future does not take institutional positions on legislative or policy questions. All information contained on Common Resources is intended for informational and educational purposes and may only be used for these purposes. Please see RFF's Terms of Use for further information.

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