According to a recent study conducted by Yale and George Mason Universities, most Americans are firmly behind the development and implementation of cleaner energy technologies. The majority – across the political spectrum – would even support taxing carbon emissions to help reduce industrial pollution.
The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication coordinated the study, which took place during October and November of this year. Among the feedback from “Climate Change in the American Mind: Public Support for Climate & Energy Policies in November 2011” were the following findings:
90 percent of Americans say developing sources of clean energy should be a very high (30%), high (35%), or medium (25%) priority for the president and Congress, including 82 percent of registered Republicans, 91 percent of Independents, and 97 percent of Democrats.
85 percent of Americans (including 76% of registered Republicans, 83% of Independents, and 90% of Democrats) say that protecting the environment either improves economic growth and provides new jobs (54%), or has no effect (31%). Only 15 percent say environmental protection reduces economic growth and costs jobs.
69 percent of Americans oppose federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, including 67 percent of registered Republicans, 80 percent of Independents, and 68 percent of Democrats.
Not surprisingly, respondents found the idea of additional taxes to be more agreeable when they considered that the revenues could actually offset their personal income taxes by targeting industrial polluters:
60 percent of Americans support a $10 per ton carbon tax if the revenue were used to reduce federal income taxes, even when told this would “slightly increase the cost of many things you buy, including food, clothing, and electricity.” This policy is supported by 48 percent of registered Republicans, 50 percent of Independents, and 74 percent of Democrats.
The bottom line? Clean energy solutions don’t need to be a financial compromise – they can be healthy for the nation’s economy as well as the environment. More and more individuals are recognizing this, which will be crucial as American energy policy evolves over the next few years.
You can view the entire study, or download it in PDF format at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies website.