Press Release

Bipartisan Poll: Pennsylvanians Embrace Clean Energy & Climate Action

Amid debate on climate action, 82 percent of Pennsylvanians endorse a state-crafted plan to curb carbon pollution, and even more want added investments in energy efficiency and renewable power

WASHINGTON (February 5, 2015) – A strong majority of Pennsylvanians want the state to chart its own climate and energy destiny by crafting a state-based plan to meet new federal limits on dangerous carbon pollution, a new bipartisan poll reveals, while nearly all Pennsylvanians back using more renewable power and energy efficiency to meet their energy needs.

While most Pennsylvanians support the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on carbon pollution from power plants, an overwhelming number, 82 percent, want the state initiating its own plan to meet those new standards, the poll shows.

Pennsylvanians are even more bullish about investing in clean energy, which they believe will create jobs without raising consumers’ electric bills. And they’d welcome Gov. Tom Wolf’s leadership on developing a state plan that promotes cleaner energy, according to the poll conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Right now there are no limits on how much dangerous carbon pollution power plants can dump into our air. We need to reduce that heat-trapping pollution because climate change already threatens Pennsylvanians’ health,” said Jackson Morris, eastern energy director for NRDC, who joined local Pennsylvania business and child health advocates releasing the poll on a telephone press conference.

“Pennsylvanians strongly support climate solutions that will cut carbon pollution and steer us to a brighter future that boosts our economy and protects our health while keeping energy prices affordable,” Morris added. “Now it’s up to Pennsylvania’s leadership to create the plans that put those goals into action.”

The survey by the bipartisan polling team of Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates was released as debate in the states and nationally over climate action is heating up.

The poll shows that the vast majority of Pennsylvanians support state-based leadership to meet carbon pollution cuts called for under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Nearly half of Pennsylvanians would give the governor high marks for drafting that state plan, and promoting the use of clean energy and increased energy efficiency, the poll shows.

The Clean Power Plan gives Pennsylvania, and all states, broad flexibility to develop the most cost-effective way of meeting state-specific carbon pollution reduction targets.

“As a mother of three, I strongly believe we must act on climate to protect our children. From heat illness to worsening respiratory and allergic diseases caused by impacts on air quality and plant pollen production to climate sensitive infections, climate change caused by carbon pollution and methane puts our kids at risk,” said Gretchen Dahlkemper, national field director for Moms Clean Air Force. “Using more clean energy and energy more efficiently will help our children live healthier lives. That’s why we join Pennsylvanians in urging climate action and supporting Governor Wolf in implementing a strong Clean Power Plan.”

Brian Kauffman, executive director of the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance, added: “Pennsylvania’s poised to move ahead on a clean energy economy with its skilled and talented workforce, including highly trained veterans, and its world-class universities and technical schools that can train the next generation of clean energy workers. Already, more than 57,000 Pennsylvanians work in the clean energy industry, largely in making homes and buildings more efficient and expanding renewable wind and solar power. With new smart policies, including state leadership to make the Clean Power Plan work for us, we can create more home-grown jobs that will expand our economy and improve our business environment.”

Here are more details from the bipartisan survey:

The Clean Power Plan draws majority support: 60 percent of Pennsylvanians back the EPA’s plan, including 39 percent who “strongly” support it.

  • Pennsylvanians want the state in the driver’s seat: 82 percent statewide—including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents—support Pennsylvania’s efforts to develop a state-based plan to lower power plant carbon pollution and increasing the use of clean energy and energy efficiency. Geographically, support ranges from 64 percent in the Erie area to 85 percent in Pittsburgh to 89 percent in the Wilkes Barre-Scranton area.
  • Broad majorities support all elements of a potential plan crafted by Pennsylvania, particularly on clean energy: For example, 93 percent “support” expanding utility programs to help consumers improve their homes’ energy efficiency and reduce electricity bills, with 70 percent “strongly” in favor. Eighty-eight percent “support” increasing use of clean and renewable energy like wind and solar, with 63 percent indicating “strong” support.
  • Pennsylvanians would welcome Governor Wolf’s leadership: If the governor were to develop a state plan to reduce carbon pollution and promote the use of clean energy and increased energy efficiency, nearly half (47 percent) of Pennsylvanians would view him more favorably, while only seven percent would view him less favorably.
  • Nearly all Pennsylvanians see tremendous promise in clean energy and improving energy efficiency: A full 97 percent support increased energy efficiency to meet Pennsylvania’s future needs, and more than 8 in 10 want to boost the state’s use of renewable power, including wind and solar.
  • Pennsylvanians believe clean energy will create jobs—but not at the expense of consumers: More than six in 10 say using more sources of clean, renewable energy from the wind and sun will create jobs, while nearly half (47 percent) believe it also will lower consumers’ energy costs.

To derive these findings, the pollsters jointly conducted a survey of 400 registered voters throughout Pennsylvania via landline and cell phone December 17-18, 2014. The margin of sampling error for the full study is +/- 4.9 percentage points.

For a detailed memo on the poll, click here:  http://docs.nrdc.org/globalwarming/files/glo_15020401a.pdf

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