Congress can while away the hours debating over EPA regulations. It seems to be the plan of some congresspeople who would rather see a broken government than a useful one. However, they should note that a strong majority of Americans support strict limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, even existing plants.
The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication recently released statistics based on the answers of adult voters. 67% wanted environmental protection and investment into renewable energy. The survey asked 1,275 adult voters about these matters. The results reported Americans want “strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health,” even if “the cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase.” 23% percent responded they would “strongly” support the policy, and 44% said they would “somewhat” support it.
The release of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan does just this. Each state must cut a certain amount of carbon emissions from its power sector by 2020, and a further goal is set for 2030. “The overall goal is to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants 30 percent below their 2005 levels by 2030,” Climate Progress notes.
Another Climate Progress article points out that this is the most significant move any U.S. president has made to curtail carbon pollution in history.
Statistics and surveys of widespread opinions of the population are complex and must be done carefully to gain accurate results. In the past, polls showed a majority supported cutting emissions (even if economically increasing energy costs). Once in a while, however, a survey gets another slice of statistics. It is a matter of who is being polled and how accurately cross sections of the population are included.
The Union of Concerned Scientists also reports that Americans are looking to conservation and renewable energy for solutions. “And as long as legislators remain committed to well-informed policies that represent the will of the people instead of a few powerful special interests, renewable energy can continue to look forward to a bright future in the U.S.”
Natural capital is valued by future generations, with the cost-benefit analysis of this issue known to support such resources. Even if people do not have experience with that particular language — the air they breathe and the legacy for their children is critical. Renewable energy should save money as well as protect our environmental resources. They are intertwined. Consider the terrible condition of the air and water in China needing repair. Anywhere from 350,000 to 1.2 million people die prematurely in China from air pollution. There is nothing cheap about that. And cleanup is also expensive.
It is a matter of shifting systems, who gets write-offs and subsidies, and other factors of policy and politics.
Offering many options to states, the EPA’s rule is supportive of least-costly approaches — so that there is not a perceptible rise in national electricity prices. There is also an ongoing increase in access to renewable power with dropping prices.
Climate Progress followed this change in June, quoting Dean Baker, a prominent Washington, D.C. economist and the co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. His reaction to the argument that new federal regulations to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants would drive up energy costs for lower-income Americans — “The notion that we’re going to have poor people suffering because this measure is pushing up their electric bill is just nonsense. There’s literally nothing to support that.”
In a related article by Climate Progress, three statements that cut to the chase on this issue were: 1. The Regulations Are Designed To Be Market-Friendly. 2. Critics Have Overestimated The Costs Of Regulations For Decades. 3. There Are Positive Economic Benefits To Regulations, Too
The truth is that, economically, it is most often the poor who live in toxic neighborhoods. They are disproportionately affected by air pollution.
This most recent survey also calculated answers about other policies in regards to climate adaptation and emission reductions. Climate Progress reports: “Seventy-five percent supported tax rebates for the purchase of solar power or fuel-efficient vehicles, for instance, and 62 percent supported requiring electrical utilities to get at least 20 percent of their power from green sources — a policy generally known as a ‘renewable portfolio standard.’ ”
Pointed out in this information is a disturbing statistic — “only one in ten Americans is aware that over 90 percent of climate scientists have concluded human activities play a key role in climate change.” It is time to understand that the size of our own “carbon footprint” matters. Voting for a shift to renewable energy for electricity is a significant means of lessening our carbon footprint.
Our sister site Green Building Elements reports that China is catching up in the conversation, “A group of Chinese companies recently earned a certification from their government for producing goods with a significantly smaller carbon footprint than the market average, marking the start of a carbon labeling system in the country that is the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluter.” More recently, we’ve reported on even bigger news. See:
Image Credits: YALE / PROJECT ON CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL, YALE / PROJECT ON CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION
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