Americans Strongly Support Cleaning Up Transportation: Poll

President Obama has done more than any President to protect Americans and future generations from climate change, but there is more to do. Transportation continues to be a major source of carbon pollution, accounting for about one-third nationally. There are two important ways we can cut pollution from the transportation sector: make our cars and trucks cleaner, and change how we plan our transportation systems so that we take carbon pollution into account and find ways to reduce it by providing people more efficient and cleaner options for getting around.

Luke Tonachel recently posted an update on the Obama administration's findings regarding improving vehicle fuel efficiency, while Deron Lovaas wrote about a new proposal which could result in requiring transportation planners to think about carbon and how to reduce it. Pete Altman has blogged about these as well (here and here.)

A new poll sponsored by NRDC finds overwhelming support for both approaches. The poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, finds that 95 percent of Americans want automakers to keep improving fuel economy for cars and trucks, while 79 percent want the government to keep increasing fuel efficiency standards. The support for higher fuel efficiency is held by 97 percent of Democrats, 94 percent of Independents, and 93 percent of Republicans. The poll also finds that 78 percent of Americans agree that “state transportation agencies should take vehicle-related carbon pollution and climate change into account when developing transportation plans, and also seek ways to reduce that pollution.” This view is held by 92 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Independents, and 64 percent of Republicans.

These approaches aren't just popular across political parties. Millennials and 18-34 year-olds (both at 88 percent), as well as women and Hispanics (both at 86 percent), are particularly inclined to agree that “state transportation agencies should take vehicle-related carbon pollution and climate change into account when developing transportation plans, and also seek ways to reduce that pollution." 

In addition, African Americans (86 percent),18-34 year-olds (85 percent), and Millennials (84 percent) are particularly inclined to agree that: 'The U.S. government should continue to increase fuel efficiency standards and enforce them.' 

(For the complete poll results, click here.) 

NRDC also released today data ranking the states by their carbon pollution from transportation—which would be affected by the national clean transportation goals (see table at right.) The top 10 biggest transportation polluting states are: Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina. The top 10 least transportation polluting states are: Vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Montana, Maine, Idaho and North Dakota.

Based on Energy Information Administration data, among all of those states, 11 generate more than 40 percent of their total carbon pollution from transportation, suggesting that clean transportation initiatives could have a sizable impact on the key contributor to climate change. 

We think its clear that Americans have just two words to say about clean transportation: ‘Floor it.’ Americans want cleaner cars, and better planning that green lights transportation options that save money, reduces the use of oil and improves our air, health and quality of life. The Obama administration is on the right track to deliver cleaner transportation and we must resist attempts by automakers to weaken our fuel economy standards—in fact, we need to make our cars and trucks even more efficient. And we should modernize the way we plan and build the transportation systems of the future.

President Obama has an opportunity, by delivering strong results, to cement a climate legacy as firmly grounded in transportation as it has been in the power sector. Let him know you support cleaning up our transportation sector by taking action here.

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