Aug. 28, 2009— -- Support for fossil fuel plants is down, support for nuclear power is up (though with a strong not-in-my-back-yard component) and hopes are reasonably high that a new U.S. energy policy will create jobs and help address global warming – albeit at some cost.
A substantial 41 percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll think proposed changes being developed by Congress and the Obama administration will raise their energy costs. Yet enough of them back those changes nonetheless to give the effort 57 percent support among all Americans – well higher than support for health care reform, 45 percent.
President Obama, likewise, has a 55 percent approval for handling energy policy, compared with his 46 percent approval rating on health care.
This may be, in part, because energy policy hasn't (yet) withstood the withering debate that's raked health care reform. But there are other reasons: Fifty-two percent of Americans think it'll help address global warming. And by 36 percent to 15 percent they're more apt to think it'll create rather than take away jobs in their state.
Where these and other views go from here is an open question, and there are challenges: A cap-and-trade system to control emissions gets a somewhat tepid 52 percent support. That rises to 58 percent if it works, and costs households $10 a month – but falls to 39 percent support, a new low in ABC/Post polling in the past year, at $25 a month.
Price sensitivity is important, and therefore likely to be central to the debate. Among Americans who think an energy policy overhaul will raise their energy costs, 54 percent oppose it – although a perhaps surprising 36 percent are in favor nonetheless. Support rises to 74 percent among those who think it won't impact costs and 88 percent of those who think it'll reduce them.
Support also is far lower among those who see energy reform as costing jobs, and higher among those who think it'll create them; and higher among those who think it'll help address global warming than among those who think otherwise.