Poll: 75 Percent of Americans Support Regulating CO2 as a Pollutant, 60 Percent Support Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax

A new national survey confirms strong public support for funding renewable energy research, regulating carbon pollution, and signing a global treaty to slash emissions. The study, conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found a remarkable 75% of Americans support “regulating carbon dioxide (the primary greenhouse gas) as a pollutant.”

The survey’s results are counter to widely held assumptions among the media and politicians, but consistent with recent polling. The poll found:

  • 63 percent of Americans support “signing an international treaty that requires the United States to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide 90 percent by the year 2050“!
  • By a margin of 3 to 1 — 61 percent to 20 percent — Americans say they would be more likely to vote for a political candidate who supports a “revenue neutral” tax shift, increasing taxes on fossil fuels, and reducing the federal income tax by an equal amount.
  • 61 percent said they support holding the fossil fuel industry responsible for “hidden costs we pay for citizens who get sick from polluted air and water, military costs to maintain access to foreign oil, and the environmental costs of spills and accidents.”
  • By 3 to 1 — 58 percent to 17 percent — Americans say “protecting the environment … improves economic growth and provides new jobs” vs those who say it “reduces economic growth and costs jobs.”
  • Asked “When there is a conflict between environmental protection and economic growth, which do you think is more important?” an amazing 62 percent supported “protecting the environment, even if it reduces economic growth” vs. 38 percent who backed “Economic growth, even if it leads to environmental problems.”

Of course, the conflict that arises between the kind of environmental protection progressives support and economic growth only exists because of a narrow definition of economic growth whereby GDP doesn’t take into account the harm caused by pollution to humans and a livable climate (see Economists concluded “Coal-Fired Power Plants Have Air Pollution Damages Larger Than Their Value Added” and natural gas damages are larger than its value added for even low CO2 prices). Since the vast majority of the non-Tea-Party public understand this, that’s no doubt one reason they strongly support pricing or taxing pollution.

Here are some charts from the study:

In many respects the public is far ahead of the political system, in part because the GOP’s national leadership are in the thrall of the Tea Party and its pollutocrat backers — and in part because of the fecklessness of many progressive leaders on this issue.

Perhaps the President has finally noticed all of the extreme weather and all of the polling making clear that climate change and clean energy are both wedge issues (see “Obama Stunner: Climate Change Will Be A Campaign Issue, We Need to Do Much More To Combat It“).

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