New Bipartisan Poll: Americans Embrace Climate Action, Clean Energy & Health Protections

Majorities in Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida and Colorado back an agenda of clean water, clean air, health safeguards and action on climate change

WASHINGTON (January 22, 2015) – With President Obama and the new GOP-controlled Congress facing showdowns over climate change, and health and environmental safeguards, new public opinion research shows that a strong majority of Americans in five key states support existing protections and many -- including many Republicans -- favor tougher environmental enforcement.

Further, Americans in Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Hampshire and Virginia back the president’s climate and clean energy initiatives and oppose an agenda in the 114th Congress to roll back environmental regulations, weaken air and water protections and block climate action, according to the research conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council by the bipartisan polling team of Hart Research Associates and American Viewpoint.

“Americans are speaking out: they strongly side with the president’s commitment to deliver a safer and healthier planet for our children,” said Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs at NRDC. “And they’re clearly against the new congressional majority’s fossil-fueled agenda to unravel decades of health and environmental protections, and block action on climate change. The bottom line is Americans don’t want dirty energy; instead, they’re calling for clean energy, health safeguards and steady resolve to protect our future from dangerous climate change.”

"The message from our surveys is abundantly clear,” said Jay Campbell, senior vice president of Hart Research Associates.  “Residents in these states—reflecting the attitudes of people across the country—favor policies that protect public health and the environment in a host of areas.  And in most of these areas there is more agreement across party lines than dissention.”

American Viewpoint Vice President David Kanevsky said: “While Republicans and Democrats in Washington may disagree on some of these issues, Republicans, Democrats and Independents in the states find areas of common ground in support of renewable energy and protecting the environment.”

The polls show that most Americans -- including a majority of Republicans -- believe climate change is real. And there is substantial support across party lines for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan —launched under the president’s directive – to set the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants, a key driver of climate change.

Not only that, but Americans also express significant preference for investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency over traditional energy sources such as approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline or offshore drilling. Even Republicans who like the Keystone XL project place higher importance on boosting energy efficiency in several of the states, the polls show.

Also, majorities in the five states overwhelmingly say they want federal clean water standards that now clearly apply to large sources of drinking water such as lakes and rivers also to cover smaller sources including streams and creeks.

And, finally, majorities, across all parties, appear ready to welcome strict regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to protect nearby communities, water supplies and wildlife.

The surveys of views of Americans in five key electoral and presidential battleground states were conducted December 9-16, 2014 among likely 2016 voters in five states: Colorado (501); Florida (701); Maine (500) New Hampshire (500) and Virginia (500). The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points for the 500 voter samples and plus or minus 3.7 percentage points for the 701 voter sample.

Here are more key findings:

  • Americans endorse tougher environmental protections: There’s no appetite for weakening environmental regulations. More than 75 percent in each state say they’re about right or should be tougher. Many people, in fact, want a tougher approach taken to enforcing environmental standards and safeguards: Colorado, 42 percent; Florida, 50 percent; Maine, 45 percent; New Hampshire, 49 percent; Virginia, 47 percent.
  • Americans want more energy efficiency and clean energy: There is a clear and significant preference for making new investments in sustainable energy sources—like energy efficiency and renewables—rather than traditional ones, particularly among Democrats and independents, though among many Republicans as well. The support, among all respondents: Colorado, 56 percent; Florida, 67 percent; Maine 65 percent; New Hampshire, 70 percent; and Virginia, 66 percent.
  • Americans strongly favor clean energy over Keystone XL: Many more people put sustainable energy policies, and energy efficiency, as much higher high priorities than approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline or offshore drilling. For example, the difference between sustainable energy versus Keystone XL as “high priorities” in Colorado is 62-39 percent; Florida 74-39 percent; Maine 75-31 percent; New Hampshire 73-30 percent; and Virginia 72-41 percent.

    And in some states, such as Virginia and New Hampshire, Republicans put energy efficiency and renewables as high a priority as the Keystone pipeline.

  • Americans believe man is influencing climate change: Colorado, 53 percent; Florida, 55 percent; Maine, 64 percent; New Hampshire 62 percent; and Virginia 48 percent.
  • Moreover, Americans overwhelmingly back EPA climate action: There’s very substantial support across the board for the EPA’s climate action proposals to limit on carbon pollution from power plants: Colorado, 66 percent; Florida, 74 percent; Maine 74 percent; New Hampshire, 72 percent; and Virginia 69 percent.

    Even a majority of Republicans support the carbon standards in Florida, 53 percent; Maine, 53 percent; New Hampshire, 54 percent; and Virginia 54 percent.

  • Americans overwhelmingly call for clean water: Large majorities of people in each state endorse applying the proposed Clean Water Rule to smaller sources of drinking water: Colorado, 73 percent; Florida, 77 percent; Maine 74 percent; New Hampshire, 73 percent; and Virginia, 75 percent. Even after hearing arguments on each side of the issue, majorities continue supporting protections for these streams and creeks.
  • Americans strongly back protections from fracking impacts: There is wide support for applying strict oversight of fracking operations to protect communities, water supplies and wildlife: Colorado, 68, percent; Florida, 69 percent; Maine, 70 percent; New Hampshire, 69 percent; and Virginia, 73 percent. Also, while most don’t support banning new fracking entirely, most do favor temporary moratoriums to study fracking’s impacts.

For a blog on these issues by NRDC President Rhea Suh, click here:

For a detailed memo on the bipartisan polls, click here:

Here is an audio recording of the call:


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