With a challenge in Congress up for a vote today, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds broad public support for federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to reduce global warming.
Seventy-one percent of Americans support such regulations, up 6 points from December and almost exactly the average in three polls last year. Intensity, moreover, is very much on the support side: Fifty-two percent “strongly” support greenhouse gas regulations, vs. 19 percent who strongly oppose them.
The Senate is scheduled to vote today on a bid to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s creation of greenhouse gas regulations. While led by Republicans, four Senate Democrats have indicated their support for the measure, which President Obama has said he’d veto.
Althought there's a strong partisan aspect to public views on the issue, majorities across the spectrum support greenhouse gas regulations – 55 percent of Republicans, rising to 69 percent of independents and 81 percent of Democrats. Similarly, 52 percent of conservatives are in favor, jumping to eight in 10 moderates and nine in 10 liberals.
Critics have warned of the regulations’ economic impacts, but previous polling has indicated only modest price sensitivity in these views. In an ABC/Post poll in December, majorities supported greenhouse gas regulations even if it would raise Americans’ energy bills by $10 or even $25 a month.
While polling in the past year has found a decline in perceptions that global warming is occurring, they're still very substantial. Seventy-two percent in an ABC/Post poll in November said they think the Earth has been warming, down from a peak of 85 percent in 2006. Also, among those who said it’s occurring, 82 percent said it’s a serious problem.
The decline in views that the Earth is warming has occurred disproportionately among conservatives and Republicans. In a blog post last fall, and in more detail in a paper at the annual conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research last month, we’ve suggested caution in evaluating what we’ve termed “expressed belief,” given the policy preferences that may influence survey responses to supposedly factual questions.
Click here for the greenhouse gas question and overall results from our latest poll.