Environment Forum

Washington math: oil spill + climate bill = new environmental polls

OIL-RIG/LEAKWith BP’s spilled oil shimmering off the U.S. Gulf Coast, and a re-tooled bill to curb climate change expected to be unveiled this week in the U.S. Senate, what could be more appropriate than a bouquet of new environmental polls? Conducted on behalf of groups that want less fossil fuel use, the polls show hefty majorities favoring legislation to limit emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide.

In the kind of harmonic convergence that sometimes happens inside the Capital Beltway, a new poll released on Monday by the Clean Energy Works campaign showed “overwhelming public support for comprehensive clean energy legislation,” with 61 percent of 2010 voters saying they want to limit pollution, invest in clean energy and make energy companies pay for emitting the carbon that contributes to climate change. A healthy majority — 54 percent — of respondents said they’d be more likely to re-elect a senator who votes for the bill.

Last Friday, the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has been pushing for climate change legislation for years, released its own poll numbers. NRDC’s pollsters found seven in 10 Americans want to see fast-tracked clean energy legislation in the wake of the BP oil spill, and two-thirds say they want to postpone new offshore drilling until the Gulf oil spill is investigated and new safeguards are put in place.

USA/Going back one more day, Rasmussen Reports found that even after the Gulf oil spill began dominating the Web, TV newscasts and newspaper front pages, 58 percent of respondents still favor offshore drilling. That’s a big majority but a 14-point drop from the 72 percent who favored offshore drilling after President Barack Obama announced at the end of March that he was opening new areas to exploratory offshore drilling for the first time in more than two decades.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed reporters to a poll by Republicans for Environmental Preservation — a quote on their website reads “Nothing is more conservative than conservation” — that showed 52 percent of Republicans and a similar number people who consider themselves conservatives support a U.S. energy policy to boost domestic energy production and cap carbon emissions.Even among Tea Party respondents, who are generally hostile to what they call big government, the poll found more favored the policy — 47 percent — than the 42 percent who opposed it.

Obama says greenhouse gases are hurting us — now what?

The Obama administration’s move to declare climate-warming carbon pollution a danger to human health was quickly hailed by environmental groups and leading liberals as a long-overdue shift from the Bush era and a historic first step toward¬†regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

In making the announcement, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson said that solving the problem would not only clean up the air but also “create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”

She says the way to do it is for Congress to pass comprehensive climate change legislation while at the same time averting a “regulatory thicket” that unduly burdens governments and businesses.

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