When President Barack Obama announces his new climate change plan Tuesday, he will be addressing a voting public that, despite conventional wisdom, is ready to embrace his key proposal: Environmental Protection Agency regulation of carbon emissions from existing power plants.
Since the failure to pass cap-and-trade in 2009, Washington conventional wisdom has held that any effort to curb the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming will be met by a skeptical electorate. But this misunderstands the public’s nuanced view.
Most polls show that the percentage of Americans who think that climate change is happening and being driven by human activity is at its highest levels since 2007. In fact, 65 percent of voters support “the president taking significant steps to address climate change now,” according to a recent poll by the Benenson Strategy Group
But the devil is in the details, as a February Duke University study shows. Though public support for cap-and-trade or a carbon tax are tepid (30 to 35 percent support, with about the same percentage opposing), Americans overwhelmingly support “regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and factories” (65 percent support versus 14 percent oppose).